When: 7:00 PM AZ Time
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona, NBATV
Listen: 98.7 FM
Here we go again. Round 2 in Utah is set, as the highly anticipated debut of Chris Paul could take place, as the veteran point guard is listed as questionable. After dropping the first matchup by the score of 119-105, the Suns will look to bounce back with a squad that is hopefully at closer to full strength depending on the status of CP3 and Crowder.
On Saturday, Phoenix was without veterans Chris Paul, Jae Crowder and Dario Saric due to rest and “camp soreness”. It hasn’t been confirmed that they will play any of the three that sat out Saturday, and Monty stated that both Cam and Mikal have some “bumps and tweaks”.
Chris Paul (right ankle soreness) is questionable for tonight’s preseason game against Utah.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) December 14, 2020
Cam Johnson (left calf soreness), Cam Payne (left knee tendinopathy) and Dario Saric (right quad soreness) are all out.
Jae Crowder is not on the injury report, as was the case Saturday
Chris Paul tells us he will play for the Suns tonight against the Jazz.— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) December 14, 2020
C- Deandre Ayton — Rudy Gobert
F- Jae Crowder* — Bojan Bogdanovic
F- Mikal Bridges — Joe Ingles
G- Devin Booker — Donovan Mitchell
G- Chris Paul — Mike Conley*
*Not confirmed to be active.
If Crowder isn’t set to play just yet, it’ll be interesting to see who they elect to start at power forward with Cam Johnson out tonight. If I had to guess, Jalen Smith could be next in line with both Saric and Johnson out there aren’t many other viable options if Crowder doesn’t suit up again. Either way, I expect the rook to get plenty of run tonight.
Injury/ Covid Report
It remains to be seen as to whether or not the Suns will elect to bring of Paul or Crowder back and suit them up in their second showdown against the Jazz. Saric remains out, and Cam Payne’s injury is new along with Cam Johnson’s, though they sound more precautionary than anything. Bridges and Johnson were each mentioned as “banged up” with some minor bumps and tweaks by Monty Williams, so that’s something to keep an eye out for throughout the preseason.
Injury report:— utahjazz (@utahjazz) December 13, 2020
Udoka Azubuike - QUESTIONABLE (left knee soreness)
Shaquille Harrison - OUT (right hand fracture)
Royce O’Neale - OUT (rest; medical protocol)
What to Watch
Other than the status of Paul, Crowder and Saric, the main thing I’ll be keeping an eye out for will be the guard rotation and how Monty elects to make adjustments from how he deployed the quad guard group of Cameron Payne, Jevon Carter, E’Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway.
Galloway didn’t see a single minute in the first half, then erupted for 17 points in just 16 second half minutes. Here’s how the guard rotation faired in game 1:
- Cam Payne: 30 minutes- 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 4/10 FG.
- Jevon Carter: 32 minutes- 8 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 2/8 FG.
- E’Twaun Moore: 14 minutes- 9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4/8 FG.
- Langston Galloway: 16 minutes- 17 points, 1 rebound, 0 turnovers, 4/7 3PFG, 6/10 FG.
The battle for reserve guard minutes should be a dogfight all season long, and due to Booker’s minute restriction and Paul’s absence there were far more guard minutes available in Saturdays game than their figures to be in a regular season game.
Rookies Jalen Smith and Ty-Shon Alexander also made their debuts and should figure to receive some run again, especially in the 4th quarter as it gets closer towards the garbage time minutes. Smith looked fairly confident for a rookie in his first game, so that was great to see.
Suns 113 - Jazz 107
[Crumbles up paper]
The only prediction I will make is that there will be some more sloppy basketball played, and that we could see it get a little chippy and physical between two teams meeting for the 2nd time in 3 days.