When: 8:00 P.M. MST
Where: Phoenix, Arizona
Watch: ESPN, FSAZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
Spread: Phoenix -1.5
For the third straight game, the Phoenix Suns will be on national television (second straight on ESPN) against the Denver Nuggets who have won four of their last six and are starting to regain that bubble form.
53 years ago today marks the moment the Phoenix Suns officially became an NBA franchise. It would be ideal to celebrate that milestone with a win on national television.
3 Keys to the game
- Ayton vs. Jokic
Ayton is in the midst of an impressive two game stretch that he’ll look to continue against one of the best centers in the league. In the first matchup against Jokic earlier this season, Ayton outplayed Jokic on his own floor, posting 22 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks on 10-of-13 shooting in a win over Denver.
If Deandre can continue his hot streak and step up against one of the best players in the league yet again then I like Phoenix’s chances. The key to this matchup will be for Ayton to stay out of foul trouble with how depleted the Suns’ big man rotation looks to be.
- Containing Jamal Murray
Not so fun fact: Jamal Murray averages 15.7 PPG in his career, and there is only one team he averages more than 20 PPG against... you guessed it, the Phoenix Suns. He averages 21.0 points per game on a blistering .666 True Shooting Percentage. It will be interesting to see how they look to contain him, as I’m sure they’ll throw a combination of looks and coverages on him to make him uncomfortable.
- The free-throw game
This is the Suns’ greatest weakness at the moment, as they are still in 29th in the entire association in free throw attempts per-game at just 19.1 while allowing their opponent to shoot 23.9 per-game.
This needs to change in both directions, and they need to close that gap regardless of however many they are allowing and/or attempting. Being nearly 5 attempts per-game below your opponent is crippling over the course of a 72-game season, so that figure needs to become much closer to neutral.
On the Suns front, it looks like Dario Saric and Damian Jones are both out again, though rookie big man Jalen Smith looks to be cleared for action and they might need him with how thin the big man depth is behind Deandre Ayton and Frank Kaminsky.
The Suns starters finally click, and they take down a solid Denver team in dramatic fashion.
113-111, Suns win.