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Game Preview: Suns (28-13) travel to Miami (22-21) to begin their 4-game east coast swing

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It is the first time the Suns will play the defending Eastern Conference champions this season.

Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (28-13) @ Miami Heat (22-21)

When: 5:00 p.m. MST

Where: American Airlines Arena

Watch: FSAZ

Listen: 98.7 FM


The last time the Phoenix Suns played the Miami Heat was a Saturday night last August in Orlando. They won that game by 7, moving their Bubble streak to 5 games. The Heat would march past the Pacers, Bucks, and Celtics en route to their sixth NBA Finals appearance.

Now the Suns are the team with championship aspirations. Okay, I’m sure Miami does as well, but our Phoenix Suns are holding strong with their #2 in the Western Conference. You know, the conference we always talk about being so tough and challenging? Yeah, we’re two games out of the #1 spot. What a season, eh?

This is a winnable game for the Suns as they begin their road trip. Miami is a team that is consistently inconsistent. Do they have talent? You don't go to the NBA Finals without it. But they are still trying to find themselves. 22-21...good for the 5th seed in the east.

Probable Starting Lineups

Phoenix

Chris Paul - Devin Booker - Mikal Bridges - Jae Crowder - Deandre Ayton

Miami

Kendrcik Nunn - Duncan Robinson - Jimmy Butler - Kelly Olynyk - KBam Adebayo

Uniform Tracker

Back to the home whites on the road!

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Lodi dodi no body

Miami:

  • Avery Bradley (out, calf)
  • Goran Dragic (day to day, back)
  • Udonis Haslem (out, health and afety)

Heat Update

  • Points-per-Game/Offensive Rating: 106.3 (26th)/108.1 (25th)
  • Opponents Points-per-Game/Defensive Rating: 107.6 (4th)/109.3 (5th)
  • Net Rating: -1.2 (21st)

Some teams have an “NBA Finals hangover” and it would be easy to blame to mediocrity the Heat have displayed this season on the fact that they had just 73 days off between the Finals and Opening Day. But this wasn’t a hangover. This was a sickness.

Miami came out of the gate hampered by injuries and COVID, winning just 6 of this first 18 games. All Star wing Jimmy Butler missed ample time during this stretch. Upon his return in game 19 of the Heat season, the team began to gel once again. They won 12 of their next 18.

Bam Adebayo is averaging a career high 19.2 points this season, adding 9.5 rebounds and 62.6 TS%. The 4th year big is continuing to enhance his skillset, working on his mid-range game. He is scary good and will be a handful for Deandre Ayton.

Duncan Robinson, the sharpshooting 26 year-old from the University of Michigan, is having some regression this year. His three-point shooting is down 6.4% while shooting 0.3 more per game this season. His scoring is down and his turnovers are up. It is clear that the NBA has adjusted to his offensive tendencies and making life a little hit harder for him.

The Heat have dropped their last 3 games entering their contact with the Suns, losing in Memphis and then back-to-back games at home to the Indiana Pacers. Prior to this losing streak, they won 4 straight.

This truly is a team in the middle.

Suns Update

  • Points-per-Game/Offensive Rating: 114.1 (11th)/115.8 (8th)
  • Opponents Points-per-Game/Defensive Rating: 107.5 (3rd)/109.1 (4th)
  • Net Rating: +6.7 (3rd)

It’s off to the east coast for the Suns as they begin a 4-game road trip. Phoenix enters this game 13-5 on the road. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games.

Kudos once again for Chris Paul on dishing out his 10,000th assist. Personally, I love that it came on a pass to Deandre Ayton; a play in which Ayton was staring at the bottom of the rim for on high, flying through the air. For all of the anti-Ayton peeps out there, enjoy this highlight. You’ll see it for a long time.

Phoenix continues to ride the wave of luck, if you will, as they find themselves relatively healthy playing teams that are not. At the end of the day you see the 28-13 record, not who was healthy and who was not. And that is what matters. The wins.

We have officially entered the dog days of the season; the time of the year in post-All Star game and before the playoffs that are the most mentally draining on players. These next few road games are a test for Phoenix.

Keys to a Suns Win

The Heat are one of three teams the Suns did not play in the first half of the season (Spurs, Knicks).

I’m keyed in on the Deandre Ayton vs. Bam Adebayo matchup, as I’m sure all of us are. Bam is a force of nature, possessing the aggressiveness that we all wished Ayton had. It will be power versus finesse in the paint.

Miami is a quality defensive team that likes to push teams out of the paint and to the perimeter. There will be plenty of three-point opportunities for the Suns in this one. Knock them down and you win the game. Jae Crowder revenge game? Sure, why not. 4-7 from three for Crowder.

Suns 114, Heat 105