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Preview: Suns look to extend win streak to 4 against Buzz City

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Phoenix has to take Charlotte seriously or they could wind up with a disappointing home loss.

Charlotte Hornets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (20-10) vs. Charlotte Hornets (14-16)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Phoenix Suns Arena

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona, League Pass

Listen: 98.7 FM


The Devin Booker revenge tour begins tonight. Or does it?

This could be a statement game from Booker looking to prove the league wrong after getting snubbed from the All Star Game, but part of me thinks his maturity as a player and focus on making the “right” plays to win will outweigh the desire to go for 60. Either way, expect him to play with an edge (even more-so than usual).

The Hornets will frankly not care about any of that outside noise as they look to continue their playoff push in the Eastern Conference. Phoenix cannot take them lightly or they will get run out of the gym.

This Charlotte teams has a lot of offensive firepower and some streaky shooters, so if they are given confidence early it could be trouble. The Suns are 11-5 at home, and need to continue to protect their home court early in the season to set themselves up down the road.


Projected Starters:

Suns: Chris Paul—Devin Booker—Mikal Bridges—Frank Kaminsky—Deandre Ayton

Hornets: LaMelo Ball—Terry Rozier—Gordon Hayward—PJ Washington—Cody Zeller

Injury Report:

Suns: Abdel Nader (thumb) QUESTIONABLE

Hornets: Gordon Hayward (hand) PROBABLE, Caleb Martin (health and safety protocols) OUT, Devonte Graham (knee) OUT

Key to the game

Contain the backcourt!

LaMelo Ball is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year for a reason, so it’s important for the Suns to contain him as much as possible early on. Players in his mold are a tough assignment because you not only have to worry about him as a scoring threat, but as a creator for others.

With Rozier in the backcourt next to Ball, I’d personally recommend tasking Mikal Bridges with the defensive assignment on LaMelo. Paul could then shift to Rozier and Booker moves up to guard Hayward. It will be interesting to monitor how they go about defending that trio.

Terry Rozier is playing the best basketball of his career, posting 20.8 PPG on a ridiculously efficient 48/45/96 shooting split. With Graham out, Malik Monk has been thrust into a more prominent bench role, and he's the type of streaky shooter the Suns need to be cognizant of or they could pay.

I could see this one being a game of runs between two streaky shooting teams, so the defensive side of the ball will be the key for the Suns as they look to improve to 21-10 on the season.


Prediction

Suns win 113-107.