When: 7:00 p.m. MST
Where: PHX Suns Arena (Please name this soon)
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
Betting line: Suns are favored by 10, money line is Suns -550
The Suns are on an absolute roll right now, playing as impressively on both ends as just about any team in the NBA. After injuries and COVID-related absences early on, this group is also fully healthy, and Monty Williams is finally able to unleash his system and rotation as he intended when it was put together all the way back in November.
Chris Paul all season has emphasized the need to “pile up wins.” The Suns are in that type of groove right now, and it’s not hard to see a matchup tonight at home against a depleted Magic roster ending in their sixth straight win.
Projected starting lineups
Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Frank Kaminsky, Deandre Ayton
Orlando Magic: Michael Carter-Williams, Dwayne Bacon, James Ennis, Gary Clark, Nikola Vucevic
Phoenix Suns: NOBODY!
Orlando Magic: Ennis, Cole Anthony, Evan Fournier and Al-Farouq Aminu are questionable; Frank Mason is OUT
That’s not to mention both Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, all of whom are recovering from long-term injuries right now.
Orlando just was granted a long-term injury exception to add another player because of all their injuries, so that should tell you all you need to know about what they’re dealing with — and nobody is even in the health and safety protocol!
16-9; No. 4 in the Western Conference
114.0 ORtg (11th) - 110.3 DRtg (6th) = plus-3.7 netRtg (7th)
Because you would normally hear from me in podcast form or in a game recap writing about a game as big as the Suns’ win over the Sixers on Saturday, I wanted to at least take some space here to praise how well Phoenix played.
First, you can see my more detailed breakdown here:
Missed Suns-Sixers last night to celebrate Valentine’s Day so I’ll thread what I see here while I watch ⤵️— Brendon Kleen (@BrendonKleen14) February 14, 2021
But more generally, the Suns showed on Saturday how much their margin for error has grown compared with last season. Because of Booker and Paul, in addition to progress from players like Bridges, Dario Saric, Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson, the Suns just don’t lose control like they used to. This group lost many close games last season because the collective oomph just wasn’t enough against more talented groups.
Now, they’re never really at a talent disadvantage outside of matchups against the elite of the NBA. Against Philadelphia, once Kaminsky left the game, the overall versatility, smarts and energy of the Suns was on full display. They knew when to double-team Joel Embiid and when not to. They read the sets in which Tobias Harris was the ball-handler and blitzed him as needed. Booker broke down the defense, no matter if it was Ben Simmons isolated on him at the top of the key or a more aggressive full-team approach.
When all the parts are moving together as seamlessly as they were on Saturday, everyone is healthy, and shots are falling, that’s basically the ballgame. For a Suns team that has rarely blown opponents out this season, they should do the same thing against Orlando.
10-17; tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference
106.7 ORtg (27th) - 113.4 DRtg (21st) = minus-6.7 netRtg (27th)
Orlando is coming off a game in which they beat the Kings by double digits behind Vucevic’s 42 points and six triples. Overall, they got pretty lucky from deep, with Carter-Williams hitting one, Clark going 2-4 and Terrence Ross going 4-10, but they do still have enough veteran talent on offense to score if you don’t take them seriously.
Plus, the Magic are the more rested team on Sunday. If you’re crafting a case for how they win, it’s that the Suns aren’t careful enough against Vucevic and Ross and Orlando just plays with more energy overall. But how big a chance does that give them — 20 percent?
If you’re looking for guys to watch on the Magic, make sure you take note of Mo Bamba, who is finally in the rotation again, as well as Chuma Okeke, the 16th overall pick in 2019 who missed all last year with an ACL tear but is finally playing for Orlando. You’ll remember him from that Cinderella Auburn team from that year’s tournament, and he’s a physical, crafty wing who should be a clear fit in the modern NBA.
I just don’t see any way this Suns team should lose, and even if they come out slow, they have shown the ability to course-correct and beat teams anyway. Even if Vucevic and Ross were to get hot, the Suns still hold a massive advantage on the bench and in terms of overall shot creation. Who’s taking Vooch and Ross over Booker and Paul?
Suns 120, Magic 105