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Preview: The Suns (7-5) look to bounce back against the surging Kings (5-7)

Phoenix has had the better overall season, but Sacramento comes into this one with all the momentum.

Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (7-5) @ Sacramento Kings (5-7)

When: Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 8:00 p.m. local time

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM

Inconsistency in the Valley

Offensive Rating: 109.5 (8th)

Defensive Rating: 104.4 (13th)

Net Rating: +5.1 (8th)

Projected starters: Jevon Carter - Devin Booker - Kelly Oubre Jr. - Dario Saric - Aron Baynes

1 PM Injury Update: as Bright Side’s Brendon Kleen reports, there’s a potentially large injury list for the Suns tonight.

No update yet on Ricky Rubio as of this morning, who is questionable for now.

It’s hard to get a good feel for this team right now. Their most recent two wins were not just close wins but rather blowouts over Atlanta and Brooklyn. They also kept it close to a contending Lakers team until the final buzzer. But on the other hand, blowout losses to Boston and Miami are not as easily excusable as the early-season close defeats to teams like Utah and Denver.

Don’t fall over in shock from hearing this, but Ricky Rubio’s presence could make or break this team’s performance tonight. The Suns visibly struggled to create dribble penetration against Boston without Rubio as their floor general, and that last-minute injury also allowed Boston the opportunity to aggressively trap Devin Booker. If Carter starts once again, I’d expect the Kings to utilize a similar strategy.

Sacramento Surging

Offensive Rating: 106.2 (20th)

Defensive Rating: 109.9 (19th)

Net Rating: -3.7 (21st)

Projected starters: Cory Joseph - Buddy Hield - Harrison Barnes - Nemanja Bjelica - Richaun Holmes

Strangely enough, it took De’Aaron Fox going down for the rest of the Kings roster to wake up. They’re 5-2 over the past 7 games, with just two close losses to the Raptors and Lakers, and they’re not winning in the way you’d expect.

The 2018-19 Kings boasted the 5th fastest pace in the NBA, propelled by Fox’s speed and composure in transition.

The 2019-20 Kings are 29th in the league in pace, using up over 5 fewer possessions per game than last year as a team.

Their new, slower approach has allowed them to focus on defense first, with Cory Joseph applying intense ball pressure to his assignments and Richaun Holmes serving as an above-average rim protector on the back end.

On offense, they rely heavily on their shooters. Over this 7-game stretch for Sacramento, Nemanja Bjelica is shooting 50 percent from deep, Bogdanovic is shooting 48 percent, and Buddy Hield 41 percent.

So while the Suns dominated this team in game one to open the season, it won’t be as easy this time. Deandre Ayton is no longer there to finish pick-and-roll plays and dominate in the post, meaning the Suns will likely be entering a shootout with their stretch bigs and hoping that they can get more threes to fall than the Kings. That’s a dangerous proposition.


Despite Sacramento’s recent success, the Suns are still the better team here if Rubio plays. If he doesn’t, and the Suns are on the second game of a back-to-back on the road, that’s a whole lot of adversity to overcome.

I’m still going to be optimistic here and go for a win, but it could be very close.

Suns 108 - Kings 105

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