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Preview: Suns host Spurs on ESPN ahead of trade deadline

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National television has not treated the Suns well this season.

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

San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns

Time: 8:30 p.m. (Arizona standard time)

TV: ESPN

Radio: 98.7 FM


The Suns look to follow up on a surprisingly strong performance without their star Devin Booker tonight in the nightcap of ESPN’s NBA Wednesday.

But all eyes will more likely be on Twitter timelines and that fateful ticker along the bottom of every ESPN channel, as tomorrow afternoon’s NBA trade deadline nears. If you’re the Suns, the Spurs are not the team you’d like to be playing as you try and showcase the guys on your trade block one final time.

Spurs healthy and rested

The big story with San Antonio is Kawhi Leonard’s continued absence as he recovers from quadriceps tendinopathy in his right leg. However, most of the rest of their roster has arrived in time for tonight’s matchup. Tony Parker is back after missing time early in the year, as is Kyle Anderson.

Several young players have earned big roles after stepping up for these injured veterans. Look for newcomers such as Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans and Dejounte Murray to play a big part in tonight’s game.

On the injury side, Leonard and Rudy Gay are the two big names who are expected to miss the contest. Forward Brandon Paul, another young contributor, missed San Antonio’s last game with back spasms but is not listed on the injury report for today’s game.

Lastly, the Spurs have a huge resting advantage tonight. They last played Saturday (in a blowout loss to Utah — sound familiar?), whereas the Suns are playing the second game of a back-to-back.

Suns trying new things

I would expect a pretty big flip in the minutes load tonight, considering the playing time some guys had against Los Angeles. Dragan Bender, TJ Warren and Josh Jackson each played over 35 minutes, while Jared Dudley was a healthy scratch. Marquese Chriss and Alex Len each played far less than their season minutes average.

So we should see quite a bit of Len, Chriss, Dudley and some of the younger players tonight. That likely means Alec Peters, Danuel House, maybe Davon Reed.

Finally, look for how the Suns run their offense. Tyler Ulis was aggressive on Tuesday night against the Lakers, and had seven assists. But the Suns have transitioned into more of a motion system over the last several weeks, emphasizing the passing skill of Bender (and Greg Monroe before him). It has helped Warren and Jackson get into rhythm scoring off of cuts and movement.

Booker should be the only guy tom miss the game outside of those with long-term injuries.

What to watch for

Last year, one of Bender’s better games came defending Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge. The veteran Spur has been much better this year than last, however, and presents Bender with a big challenge should they match up tonight.

Come join us later on to discuss the game, and pray it’s not another blowout.