Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena; Phoenix, AZ
When: 8:30 pm AZ time (10:30 p.m. EST)
Watch/Listen: TNT / Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
Tonight, the Phoenix Suns will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder at home after winning a game on the road last night against the Denver Nuggets. Can the Suns put together another win in a row that they desperately need to stay in the playoff hunt?
Tale of the Tape:
Probable Starting Lineups:
Eric Bledsoe vs. Russell Westbrook
Brandon Knight vs. Andre Roberson
P.J. Tucker vs. Kyle Singler
Markieff Morris vs. Serge Ibaka
Alex Len vs. Enes Kanter
Injuries - OKC: Kevin Durant (Out - Foot), Steven Adams (Out - Hand), Steve Novak (Out - Appendix) PHX: None
What to Watch For:
Vulnerable Thunder- Oklahoma City is dealing with more injury troubles now, with Kevin Durant missing more time due to foot soreness after a surgery from an injury earlier in the season. Add to that Steven Adams who is out with a broken hand, and the Suns will have a much more vulnerable Thunder opponent than they have seen in the past. The Suns are dealing with their own issues after a major roster shake-up at trade deadline, but with the players gaining more chemistry with one another in every game, and a home game on national television, Phoenix could be primed to beat a tough Western Conference opponent tonight.
Race to the Eighth - As unlikely as it may seem at the moment, the Suns still aren't out of the playoff hunt. Phoenix is currently 2.5 games behind Oklahoma City for the eighth spot, and a win for the Suns tonight would shrink that to just 1.5 games. In addition, not only are the Thunder dealing with injuries that could maker this race to the finish very interesting, but the New Orleans Pelicans who are also ahead of the Suns in the race are dealing with injuries to their star player as well, as Anthony Davis is missing time with a shoulder injury. If the Suns can get back on track and start winning again, anything's possible.
The Right Mix - To build on the point above, the Suns are trying to find that right mix of players in the rotation that will help them return to their winning ways. Gone are Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, but not only have the Suns added Brandon Knight, they are getting much more meaningful contributions from their young players; Archie Goodwin and T.J. Warren. It will be interesting to see if Suns' coach Jeff Hornacek chooses to keep playing Archie and T.J. against the Thunder, with it being such a meaningful game, but if the way they've played lately is any indication, I think he will. Let's see if all of these new faces in the Suns rotation can help them beat an injured, but still very dangerous Thunder team.
The Suns shouldn't win this game. Even without Durant and Adams, Oklahoma City has been on a roll lately. The Thunder have won their last seven games in a row, and while Phoenix should at least be able to give them a run for their money, the smart bet is to take the Thunder tonight.
That said, who knows? The Suns are getting better with every game they play together, and this just may be the night that everything really clicks and comes together for them.
And what better night for it to happen? The national stage is set, the team will introduce their new "Phoenix Rising" jerseys, which could be symbolic not only of their new team rising from the ashes, but perhaps even rising back into the playoff discussion.
So why not?
With that, I'll predict that the Suns win a close one, 108-106