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Game Preview: Suns Try for Four in a Row Versus Hawks

Phoenix looks to keep Ice Trae in check to close out the home stand

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

What: Suns (4-3) vs. Hawks (4-5)

When: 7:00 PM AZ Time

Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ

Watch: Bally’s Sports AZ

Listen: 98.7 FM


After a lackluster 1-3 start, the Phoenix Suns have won three straight games. The current streak has featured broken assist records, heroic Frank Kaminsky minutes, and highlights aplenty from the stellar Mikal Bridges. Despite the victories, it feels like the Suns have yet to play a complete game. With that being said, ugly wins are wins nonetheless. The team is coming off of a triumph over Houston in which Book posted a vintage scoring night and DA returned to the lineup after a brief injury scare.

Monty and Co. will look to keep the ball rolling against a dangerous Hawks team. Atlanta has stumbled over its past five contests (1-4), but the season is young for last year’s Eastern Conference Finalists. The incendiary Trae Young is once again flanked by John Collins and Clint Capela, and GM Travis Schlenk has built a deep rotation of talented wings.

Likely Starting Lineups

Suns

  • Chris Paul
  • Devin Booker
  • Mikal Bridges
  • Jae Crowder
  • JaVale McGee OR Frank Kaminsky

Hawks

  • Trae Young
  • Bogdan Bogdanović (Probably)
  • De’Andre Hunter
  • John Collins (Maybe)
  • Clint Capela

Injury Report

Suns

UPDATE!

Hawks


What to Watch For

  • How will the Hawks hide Trae on defense? If Young is left on Paul, look for CP3 to take advantage. He is too crafty to double, and Trae is doomed as the point-of-attack defender in Paul-DA pick-and-rolls. Placing Young on Book would ensure Nate McMillan a career as a stand-up comic, while tracking Mikal’s off-ball movement is probably too energy-intensive for Atlanta’s offensive engine. If not Paul, does Trae follow Jae? UPDATE: We will see if the Hawks switch their pick-and-roll coverage now that McGee and Kaminsky are filling in for DA.
  • If Cam Payne can go tonight, it would be a massive boost to the Suns’ reserves. His energy and spacing have been missed during his hiatus, and he had the bench mob humming before his injury. If he is out, backup duties will again lie with Elfrid Payton. Payton has had some nice moments as a fill-in, but his inability to space the floor has hindered the Suns.
  • Cam Reddish, Wild Card: Reddish is the Hawks third-leading scorer this season (13.1 PPG), and already has six games off the bench with 15+ points. In his other three contests, he has registered five, two, and four points. If the talented Reddish gets hot, it could spell trouble for Phoenix.

Keys to a Suns Win

  1. Slowing Trae: He may not be firing on all cylinders, but Young is a transcendent offensive talent. His preternatural ability to manufacture points, whether by facilitating or creating his own shot, looms large heading into tonight’s matchup. Look for the Suns to be physical with Trae to try and keep him out of sync.
  2. DA vs. Capela: One of the league’s most underrated players, Clint Capela is a menacing rebounder and shot-blocker. If Deandre can limit Capela’s impact on the boards and as a rim-runner, it would go a long way in securing a Suns victory. UPDATE: Given that DA is set to miss tonight’s matchup, it will be up to JaVale and Frank to keep Capela off the glass.
  3. Sharing the Rock: The Suns offense is predicated on making quick, sound decisions with the ball. Their litany of playmakers and elite off-ball movement tend to result in high assists numbers. Phoenix is 4-1 this season when recording 25 or more assists, the sole loss courtesy of a Harrison Barnes heartbreaker. If the Suns can stick to their principles, it should help them generate easy looks against a Hawks defense that has been porous as of late.

Prediction Time

The Suns are on a mini-roll, and it seems like Book is heating up. The Hawks are talented, but their team has not quite gelled. Home-court advantage, superior depth, and a return to form for some key players (incoming Cam Johnson outburst) propel the squad to victory. Suns win, 114-107.