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Preview: Phoenix Suns (45-18) look to stay on top of West, visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-43)

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Phoenix needs to win in order to hold on to the number one seed out west.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns @ Oklahoma City Thunder

When: 5:00 p.m. MST

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM

Line: Suns -15.5


“You want to be the kind of team that controls your own destiny”

Monty Williams’ message to the team after their magical 8-0 bubble run has been an extremely relatable point when talking about the Suns’ fight for seeding in the Western Conference. They own the tie-breaker over the Utah Jazz, and with a Jazz win last night they’ll need to secure a win over the Thunder to keep pace.

Oklahoma City has lost their last two games by a combined 71 points, including a historic 57-point blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers last night.

This will be the third meeting between the Suns and Thunder this season, with the series tied at 1 apiece. The Suns dropped a game against OKC earlier in the year when they had Al Horford, George Hill, and a healthy SGA, while Phoenix was without Booker due to an injury.

In the second meeting (exactly a month ago), things were very different as the Suns eclipsed the 140 point mark and handed the Thunder a brutal 37-point loss in a game where they led by as many as 30 in the first quarter.

This marks the beginning of a three-game road trip for the Suns, who will face the Cavs and Hawks in a back-to-back on Tuesday/Wednesday after tonight’s battle against OKC.

Projected Starters

Phoenix:

Chris Paul —Devin Booker — Mikal Bridges — Torrey Craig — Deandre Ayton

Thunder:

Theo Maldeon — Darius Bazley — Charlie Brown Jr. — Isaiah Roby — Moses Brown

Injury Report

Phoenix:

Cameron Payne (DTD), Cameron Johnson (DTD), Jae Crowder (OUT), Abdel Nader (OUT)

Thunder:

Aleksej Pokusevski (DTD), Luguentz Dort (DTD), Mike Muscala (OUT), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OUT), Al Horford (OUT).

Keys to the game

  • Show up.
  • Play Basketball for 48 minutes.

Really though, this one should be a lock for the Suns by all means. The Thunder did recently take down the Celtics, but they’re essentially trotting out a G League/rookie team out there, especially due to injuries they’ve dealt with.

Monty should have them focused and ready to go as they look to close in on locking up the number one seed. It would be ideal to blow it open early and limit the minutes of the starters to get some light load management going before the final stretch.

The ultimate goal should be to limit the starters’ minutes from here on out, especially when they are playing inferior teams this late into the season.

Prediction

Suns win by 20+.