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Game Preview: The Suns (3-3) welcome the Rockets (1-6) to a Thursday night duel

Is this the night the Suns lay the smack down? Or does another rollercoaster ride await us?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (3-3) vs. Houston Rockets (1-6)

When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Footprint Center

Watch: NBATV, Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


For the second consecutive game, the Phoenix Suns are paired with a team at the bottom of the standings. The Houston Rockets enter the Thursday night affair with a 1-6, the same record the New Orleans Pelicans arrived with at Sky Harbor International Airport. The Suns sent them on their way with their seventh loss of the season.

The expectation is that they will do the same to the rebuilding team from Houston.

Probable Starting Lineups

Ayton and Theis are questionable as of Wednesday night.

Uniform Tracker

I would just like to take this time to say, “thank you” to the Phoenix Suns for committing to more purple this season. Yeah, the jersey would like even better is there wasn’t grey on the font to make it look 3D, but still, very happy to embrace the purple once again

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
  • Cameron Payne (hamstring) is QUESTIONABLE
  • Deandre Ayton (LEG) is QUESTIONABLE

Rockets:

  • Daniel Theis (TOE) is QUESTIONABLE
  • Danuel House (FOOT) is QUESTIONABLE

What to Watch

In an odd scheduling quirk, the Rockets played their last two games against the Los Angeles Lakers in LA, losing both. Houston lost by two points to Los Angeles on Tuesday night, 119-117, and have shown flashes of explosive potential.

The young core is led by Christian Wood, the fifth year center from UNLV who continues to display an impressive inside/outside game. He is averaging 20.1 points on 48.6/39.0/51.5 splits. He shoots 5.9 three-pointers each night. Rookie addition Jalen Green has a license to shoot, averaging the second most shots per night on the team.

Phoenix is coming off of a game in which they played sloppy, discombobulated, and without hustle for three quarters. They then turned it on in the fourth, doubling up the Pelicans 36-18. It is a risky way to go about your business.

The win moved them to .500 on the season and into 3rd in the Pacific Division. It is still early in the season and the team has won back-to-back games, but an impressive win has still eluded them early on (outside of the thrashing they did to the Lakers).

Will tonight be the night that they beat down a team they should? Or will phrases like “playing down to the level of the competition” be part of our vernacular?

Keys to a Suns Win

If the Suns can defend the perimeter — the Rockets shoot 34.8% from deep while the Suns allow 38.9% — and force Christian Wood to the paint, good things can happen. Sure, he might get the Suns in foul trouble, but he is not what you would call “good” from the line.

Phoenix looked a tad disengaged and definitely a step slower on Tuesday night. The youthful Rockets will surely heed the advice of head coach Stephen Silas and attempt to play fast and use active hands. The Suns need to be prepared to sustain the initial run by the Rockets and focus on imposing their will.

Impose your will. Win the game.

Prediction

The time has come. For what? For a good old fashioned beat down. The Suns have yet to put together four consecutive quarters of quality basketball. We’ve seen strong starts, strong finishes, and strong mid-quarter performances from Phoenix. But we have not seen it all come together.

That changes tonight.

Suns 124, Rockets 105