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Preview: Suns try for six-game win streak vs. nemesis OKC Thunder

Every game is the biggest game of the season! Today, the Suns face the Thunder early early 11:30 AZ time.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Phoenix Suns

When: 11:30 a.m. MST *EARLY START*

Where: Orlando Bubble

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: ESPN 620 AM or 98.7 FM


Every. Game. Counts.

The Suns cannot afford to let their guard down for even a second over these last three games in four days. No one is allowed to get tired. No one is allowed to come up lame. Every player just needs to play their best basketball of the season. That’s all. No big deal.

Meanwhile the Thunder are on the second game of a back-to-back. But then again it was only the Washington Wizards.

Injured/Out

Suns: Kelly Oubre Jr. is doubtful again, while Aron Baynes (knee) and Elie Okobo (ankle) are still OUT.

Thunder: Dennis Schroder is definitely OUT since he’s not on campus (new baby born). Also reported OUT are Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Nerlens Noel and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Thunder Update

The OKC Thunder are smack dab in fifth place in the Western Conference race, facing a first round playoff date against the Houston Rockets. They have gone 3-2 in the bubble so far.

Rockets vs. Thunder. You know, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul’s former teams! Who cares if OKC creeps up to fourth in their last two games, it’s still a date with the Rockets anyway and it’s all in Orlando where there’s no home court advantage.

According the injury report, several Thunder will miss today’s game against the Suns. Though we will still get Chris Paul and Lu Dort, so that’s gonna be tough on the boys.

Suns Update

You’ve gotten tons of Suns updates right here on Bright Side. Just check the home page of the site and click through to all the stories and podcasts.

The Suns bench continues to hold up the fort every game and sometimes even build the thing themselves, like that 21-0 run against the Pacers last Thursday. And three of the four bench players are having individually great games too. Is today’s Frank’s day?

Overall, these Suns are fun! In the Bubble, the Suns have the most wins (5), the fewest losses (0), ninth on offense (115 points per 100 possessions), fourth on defense (107), second in net rating (8) and... you won’t believe this!... second in rebound rate (52.8 percent of available rebounds!). They’re also top-10 in the assist categories, pace and true shooting.

If Devin Booker scores 30 points today for the fourth time in six Bubble games, he will tie Sweet D Walter Davis for the most ALL-TIME 30-point games in franchise history (90). Dude is only 23 years old.

The Suns are currently on their longest winning streak since winning six straight, Dec 17-28, 2014.

By the way, the Suns have not just been good since entering the Bubble. For the whole season, over 70-plus games, the Suns are 14th on offense and 14th in net rating — in a league that sends 16 teams a year to the playoffs. The Suns problem has been closing games out because of their youth and changing personnel (injuries, suspension). That’s what’s changed in the Bubble: the Suns have twice won by a single basket, and have held onto fourth quarter leads in the all the others to go 5-0.

Previously this year against the Thunder

Not good for the Suns.

The Thunder walloped the Suns 126-108 on December 20, which seems like more than a year ago but really is only... ok, well eight months. Damn it’s been a long season. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 32 points, while Dennis Schroder poured in 22 off the bench.

Then the Thunder beat the Suns in Phoenix 111-107 on January 31 thanks to Danilo Gallinari’s 27 points and Chris Paul not letting them lose with 20 points, 10 assists and 3 steals. Schroder was big again off the bench with 24 points and 6 assists. The Suns had a 99-92 lead late in the fourth quarter before the Thunder went on a 13-0 run in the final four minutes to overcome and win the game. Ugh.

Thunder have won eight straight from the Suns overall, dating back to 2018.

Prediction

Well, I have to predict a Suns win don’t I?

A big plus for the Suns is that Schroder is not with the Thunder and they are resting several players.

Suns win, 124-115.