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Game Preview: Suns look to rebound against the Kings

Both teams look to get back to .500 early in the season.

Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (1-2) vs. Sacramento Kings (1-2)

When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Footprint Center

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


It may not have been the start we expected, but it is the start we received. 1-2 isn’t pretty but it isn’t the end of the world either.

After a whirlwind first week for the Suns, who played three games in four nights to begin the 2021-22 season, they have had three consecutive nights off. This has allowed rest and time to lick their wounds following a blowout loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

Next up on the slate is a matchup against the Sacramento Kings, a team who shares a 1-2 record early in the season.

Phoenix and Sacramento have locked horns a total of 237 times throughout the years, with the Suns holding a commanding 139-98 record against the team from the City of Trees. The first matchup between the franchises, back when the Kings were the Cincinnati Royals, was a 130-123 overtime loss for Phoenix on December 13, 1968. Cincinnati was led by the 34 points and 12 assists by Oscar Robertson.

This is what their logo looked like back then…

The times sure have changed! Sacramento, in my humble opinion, boasts some of the best uniform combinations in the Association these days, although it hasn’t assisted them in getting out of the lottery. The team last made the playoffs in 2005-06, back when Mike Bibby led the team in scoring and Brad Miller led them in rebounding. The franchise also possesses the longest drought since a Finals appearance, last making a run at a championship in 1951 as the Rochester Royals.

The Suns defeated the Kings two out of three times last year. This will be their first of four matchups.

Probable Starting Lineups

Uniform Tracker

https://lockervision.nba.com/

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
  • Cameron Payne (hamstring) is OUT

Kings:

  • None

What to Watch

Playing the Kings is always a good reminder on how far we have come. For the better part of a decade, the Suns and Kings were near each other in the lottery, each franchise hoping to make the pick that would propel them into the postseason. Sure, they’ve won some of those drafts despite Phoenix picking before them (see: Josh Jackson over De’Aaron Fox and Jalen Smith over Tyrese Haliburton), but as a cohesive unit, Phoenix have passed Sacramento.

That isn’t to say that this Kings’ unit is not dangerous. They have plenty of high-energy talent on the roster and GM Monte McNair has fortified that with veteran leaders like Tristan Thompson and Alex Len. They drafted Davion Mitchell with the 9th overall pick this past season, creating a backcourt bench combo of Mitchell and Buddy Hield. That is some impressive firepower for a second team unit.

Sacramento will allow you to stick around if they get an early lead as their defense is not stellar nor does it have the capacity to be.

Keys to a Suns Win

The Kings like to launch the three-ball — they’ve taken the 6th most so far this season — and the Suns have a hard time defending it. This is what will determine the outcome of the game. Phoenix has yet to display the defense we grew accustomed to last season and they will once again be tested, albeit this time with some rest under their belt.

The second team units could swing this game. Mitchell and Hield versus Payton and Shamet. Whichever duo has the bigger impact will ultimately guide their team to victory.

Want more?

Happy to oblige! Dave and Zona offer a great preview here for your listening pleasure:

Prediction

The crowd will be behind them and, with some rest and some urgency to fuel them, I can see Phoenix easily winning this one. The Suns improve to 2-2.

Suns 124, Kings 110