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Game Preview: T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns host soaring Spurs

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NBA: Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

What: San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns

When: 7:00 PM AZ Time (or, “mountain” time if you’re a joiner)

Where: Here. Downtown. Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


In their second game without leading scorer Devin Booker, the underdog Phoenix Suns play host to the surging San Antonio Spurs.

Last night, ageless Manu Ginobili hit a game-winner to life the Spurs over to the East-leading Boston Celtics.

The Spurs

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to turn my attention to the Spurs for the first time all season. While I respect the Spurs, it would make me happier if I never had to research them again.

Timmy is gone. Tony is (mostly) gone. Manu is still friggin’ around but he’s literally 40 years old and no one plays well in their 40s. Oh, and Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played all year.

So they’re finally bad agai— /looks at standings /throws up in mouth

I feel like the guy who realized the Andersons got tickets to the game AGAIN.

Manu hit a game-winning three last night to beat the East’s #1 seeded Celtics, lifting the Spurs to an 18-8 record on the season as the #3 seeded team in the vaunted West.

/looks at Spurs stats

The Spurs have only one player — LaMarcus Aldridge, 22.8 — averaging more than Rudy Gay’s 12.3 points per game. Their only other player even averaging double digits in scoring is Pau Gasol with 11.3.

11 players have appeared in at least 22 of their 26 games. Three are in double figures. The other eight average between 3.3 and 9.5 points per game. But they’re comfortably mid-pack (16th) on offense.

None of the 11 players average more than 8.1 rebounds or 3.6 assists per game. But as a team they are 7th in the league in assists per game, and 5th in rebounding.

Muthafluppin team basketball...

I’m gonna throw up and it’s not because of all the drinks I had at The Duce last night.

The Suns

With Booker out, they are stuck needing T.J. Warren to score 30+ every night just to be competitive against any team. I’m sorry T.J.

What can we say that’s good about a 9-18 Suns team mired in their 8th straight non-playoff season with no end in sight?

Here’s one: T.J. Warren looks defense-proof at times. He’s averaging 19.7 points over the last 10 games, along with 5.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

Here’s another: Tyler Ulis is looking like a real player again, and among the youngest guys he appears to be the most ready to step up a bit in Devin Booker’s absence.

Over his last 10, Ulis is averaging 9.9 points and 4.9 assists per game. He’s making 44% of his threes in that span as well.

Here’s a final one: despite running like he has suffered a major leg injury, Greg Monroe has been a nice find, averaging 10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in his 8 games as a Sun.

Debut

The only season debut you’re likely to see tonight is that of Danuel House, who signed a two-way contract yesterday and will begin his tenure with the big boys. House can only spend roughly 30 days in the NBA on this contract.

The Suns will need some wing support in the absence of Devin Booker for a few weeks.

Injuries

Spurs: no one of consequence, except that Kawhi Leonard guy.

Suns: geez o peez.

  • Devin Booker (groin, mannequin challenge winner)
  • Tyson Chandler (personal reasons)
  • Alex Len (sore, twisted ankle)
  • Alan Williams, Davon Reed (knee, but cheering on their team every single game from the bench)
  • Brandon Knight (knee, plus some kind of travel restrictions from Florida because otherwise why wouldn’t he be hanging with the team that pays him $14 million per year?)

Matchup

I’m a bit excited to see how Tyler Ulis does against Dajounte Murray. Murray was taken a few spots before Ulis in the 2016 draft.

I’m also excited to see if Tony Buckets can score effectively against the Spurs perimeter defense, and make them pay for having very little rim protection in their lineup.

Prediction

This will be bad for the Suns.