When: 7:00 PM
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona
Watch: FoxSports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM ArizonaSports
The Phoenix Suns finish the second night of a back to back (affectionately known by basketball nerds as a SEGABABA) against the Pacers at home on Wednesday night.
The Pacers, you might remember, are the victims of the Suns biggest win of the year two weeks ago and have scuttled to a 10-11 record so far this season.
Meanwhile, the Suns are exactly on pace for the predicted 25-26 win season that every modeling/forecasting tool warned would happen.
Since becoming one of only three road victims of the Suns two weeks ago, the Pacers have gone 4-4 (versus the Suns’ 2-6 record). They beat the Thunder, Nets and then the Clippers twice, but also got beat down by Klay Thompson’s 60 points in three quarters in a 142-106 Golden State win on Sunday night and two games before that, they surrendered 131 points to the Blazers.
Superstar Paul George has returned for the Pacers last two games after missing 6 of their previous 7 games with an ankle injury. George leads the team in points and is second in rebounds and steals.
Second-year center Myles Turner is having himself a great year, with 14.4 points, 7.4 rebounds (leads team) and 2.2 blocks in 28 minutes per game while still just 20 years old.
Jeff Teague has not been the panacea the Pacers wanted at point guard, but he’s been steady with 15 points and almost 7 assists, plus a team-leading 2 steals, per game.
The Pacers, though, have been a disappointment overall, even when George has been healthy. Their 10-11 record perfectly aligns with so-so offense and so-so defense.
Last night, the Suns started off terribly. And they were down 14 after one quarter, 20 at halftime and even 19 after the third quarter.
But then out popped a competitive second unit. In the first 8 minutes of the 4th quarter, a lineup of Brandon Knight, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley, Dragan Bender and Alex Len went on a 13-1 run and eventually (only swapping Len and Tyson Chandler) tied the game at 103-103 with 3:06 left.
But the second unit petered out and couldn’t finish off the comeback. The Jazz made a couple of big shots in the next minute while the Suns did not.
Tonight, the starters - who’s plus-minus was bloody - will get a chance to redeem themselves on their home court but there’s really no indication that will happen.
As Hardwood Paroxysm’s Matt Moore aptly put yesterday:
Just take last night’s game for example. You don’t build a team around Knight/LB/Duds/Len/Bender.
Need to know
Young star Devin Booker is not a home warrior. He scores only 14.5 points per game at home versus 22.5 per game on the road with awful shooting splits (39/27/60 at home versus 45/36/90 on road).
But on the plus side he’s much better on the scoreboard at home (-0.6 at home versus -8.2 on the road).
That means two things: the starting unit plays better at home than on the road, and when the Suns fall behind on the road it’s Devin Booker who starts pouring in the points.
Wednesday night is a perfect example. In three quarters, Booker made 9 of 13 shots for 21 points but the Suns ended those quarters -19 on the scoreboard.
Welp. I wish I knew what to expect.
You can hope that the starters will come out firing after laying an egg in Utah last night, but then again don’t count on Devin Booker to light up the scoreboard.
Let’s just hope he does.
Home fans need something to cheer for.