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Game Preview: Heat come to face red-hot Suns

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Can the Phoenix Suns win their 9th straight home game?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

What: Miami Heat (28-25) at Phoenix Suns (38-15)

When: Tuesday, 7:00PM AZ time

Where: Phoenix Suns Arena

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona (formerly FSAZ)

Listen: 98.7 FM


Can the Phoenix Suns win their 9th straight home game? Can the Miami Heat continue their rise from the Eastern Conference depths?

Find out tonight at 7:00PM on your regional sports network channel because national televisers don’t think anyone else needs to see the league’s second-best team host last year’s Finals team. But that’s okay. They can see the Suns blitz through the playoffs then.

Playoffs? We talkin’ playoffs? Yes, Valley fans, there is a postseason dance after all and the Suns are getting fitted for their tuxedos. At 38-15, with just 19 games to go, the Suns cannot finish the season worse than 38-34 even if they end on a 19-game losing streak and that probably still keeps them in the driver’s seat in a play-in. But more likely, your Suns finish with 48-50 wins and home court advantage for at least one playoff round.

For now, let’s keep taking it one game at a time. And this game is against the rising Heat.

Probable Starting Lineups

Don’t be surprised if they start Goran Dragic in his return to Phoenix. I’m sure he will be up for the game.

Heat Update

Talk about a Bubble hangover. Lots of people thought the Suns were a mirage, but so far this season that moniker fits better on the Heat.

Last year, the Heat were the Bubble Playoff darlings, taking their 6th seed all the way to the NBA Finals. And if it weren’t for fresh injuries to Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, they would have given the Lakers a better fight.

This year, if they want the Finals again they will need a similar push from below. Buoyed once again by their defense (6th best in the league at this point), the Heat are treading water at 5th seed in the East.

They are the definition of an up and down team: winning 11 of 12, then losing 6 straight that included one to Phoenix, and now winning 6 of 7. In those last 7, the Heat have a net rating of +5.7 and logged wins over the Knicks, Lakers and Blazers. Your Phoenix Suns will be their toughest opponent in a while.

Jimmy Butler is great as always (21/7/7), but Goran Dragic is back in the lineup coming off the bench so the Heat are more formidable this time than when they met two weeks ago. If the Heat can figure out their offense (25th for the year but 15th in this 7-game stretch), they are a really tough out.

Suns Update

Gotta start with the superlatives:

  • NBA-best 30-7 record since Monty laid into them after losing to the Pelicans to drop to 8-8 earlier this year
  • Franchise-best 25 threes in the game Monday night
  • NBA-record 18 threes in the first half
  • NBA-record 12 threes in the second quarter
  • Career-high 8 threes for Jae Crowder

The Suns are now 38-15 on the year and by winning both their games over top-seeded Utah they were given the gold crown in this week’s NBA Power Rankings on nba.com.

An interesting note on that article is that the Suns have played league’s easiest schedule so far, considering home/away and rest advantages, and that doesn’t even include missing stars in big matchups. Last week’s Jazz/Clippers games were the first in a while where the other team played their best ball with their best players healthy.

Tonight’s game against the Heat could be the third in a row where the Suns played a winning team with all their best players in the lineup. Let’s see how it shakes out.

Stats

Prediction

When your team has won 30 of their last 37 games, including 11 of 13 against teams with winning records and 8 straight at home, there’s no sanity in picking a home loss.

Suns gonna win this one, 114-104.