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Game Preview: 17-30 Phoenix Suns at 25-22 Indiana Pacers

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Can the Suns get even for the loss to Indy on Bright Side Night?

Indiana Pacers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns @ Indiana Pacers

When: 5:00 pm (Phoenix time)

TV: Fox Sports Arizona

Radio: 98.7 FM


Just 10 days ago the Suns faced the Pacers in Phoenix and were soundly beaten by 23 points. T.J. Warren and Marquese Chriss were both out and the Pacers focused defensively on keeping Devin Booker in check... which worked. Booker was held to 15 points and even a career high 21 points from rookie Josh Jackson couldn’t keep the Suns in the game with the Suns shooting poorly as a team that night (41.2% FG and 24.3% 3PT).

Warren is back in the lineup for this game which should take some of the defensive heat off of Booker but - as we saw against the Bucks on Monday - that doesn’t necessarily lead to an easy night for Devin. One thing that is certain is that the Suns cannot afford to turn the ball over as they did against the Bucks if they want a chance at getting a win in Indiana.

The Pacers

The Pacers are presently 6th in the East with a 25-22 record and have won 6 of their last 10 games. The Pacers are a hard team to predict though as they are a really an above average team offensively (7th) but average defensively (tied for 15th) and at times play inconsistently.

Last Friday they were soundly beaten 99-86 by the Lakers who were without three starters (Ball, Ingram and Caldwell-Pope) but two days later they beat the Spurs in San Antonio 94-86. They will have had two days off when they play the Suns tonight so they to be well rested. Other than that, it’s uncertain what to expect.

Victor Oladipo is the main man for the Pacers on offense, averaging 24.2 points and 3.9 assists per game. Miles Turner who missed the last game will likely miss the rematch too with an elbow injury that has kept him out of action since Jan. 8. Domantas Sabonis has filled in admirably in his absence averaging 11.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game during that stretch of time. Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison and Thaddeus Young are all scoring in double figures (13.2, 12.7 & 11.8 points per game respectively) this season and all five starters can hit threes with at least 33.3% accuracy with Collison and Oladipo both connecting on over 40% of their three point attempts.

The Pacers made 54.5% of their field goal attempts and 47.8% of their 3 point attempts in their last meeting with the Suns. If that happens again it could be another very long night for the Suns and Suns fans.

Likely Starting Lineup

  • PG - Darren Collison
  • SG - Victor Oladipo
  • SF - Bojan Bogdanovic
  • PF - Thaddeus Young
  • C - Domantas Sabonis

Team Leaders

  • Points: Victor Oladipo (24.2)
  • Rebounds: Domantas Sabonis (8.3)
  • Assists: Darren Collison (5.2)

The Suns

Phoenix is 3-7 in their last 10 games and even one of the few things they have been good at this season - rebounding - has fallen from 9th (44.5 rpg) to 27th (40.3 rpg) during that period. As a team the Suns have been average to well below average (terrible) in most categories this season and their wins all to often come only when they get above average performances from several members of the supporting cast (anyone not named Devin Booker or T.J. Warren) or when Booker and Warren both have really good nights (30+ and 25+ points respectively).

Since Marquese Chriss has been out with his injury, the Suns have been getting a paltry combined average of 9.8 points per game from their power forward rotation of Dragan Bender and Jared Dudley with a little Alec Peters thrown in from time to time. Before his injury, Chriss was averaging 11.8 ppg by himself in January so don’t think that he hasn’t been missed.

Defense continues to be an issue. Everyone knows that the Suns’ defense is bad but they’ve shown that they can play better D and they need to do it again. In December, they were 20th in defensive rating (108.2) compared to 29th for January (112.6). If they can’t at least make the Pacers work hard for their points, then we could see a repeat of the game these two teams played 10 days ago.

Likely Starting Lineup

  • PG - Tyler Ulis
  • SG - Devin Booker
  • SF - T.J. Warren
  • PF - Dragan Bender
  • C - Tyson Chandler

Team Leaders

  • Points: Devin Booker (25.0)
  • Rebounds: Tyson Chandler (9.8)
  • Assists: Devin Booker (4.7)

Injury Report

Suns: Marquese Chriss - out (hip), Brandon Knight - out (torn ACL), Alan Williams (torn meniscus)

Pacers: Miles Turner - questionable (elbow),

Key Matchup

Devin Booker vs traps/double-teams

We all know that they are coming as everyone knows that the key to stopping Phoenix is in making Booker’s night extremely difficult. When he’s thrown off his game, the Suns will almost always lose.

Summary

I’m hoping for a win but predicting a loss. Too many out of the ordinary things have to happen in this game for the Suns to get a win.