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Utah Jazz v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Game Preview: Depleted Suns look to extend win streak to 8 against Jazz

The list of injuries keeps getting longer.

What: Phoenix Suns (37-9) @ Utah Jazz (30-18)

When: 8:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena

Watch: ESPN, Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


For the second time in three nights the Phoenix Suns will play the Utah Jazz, albeit this time it will be at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Suns downed the Jazz on Monday night in Phoenix by a score of 115-109 behind the efforts of their guard play, as Chris Paul scored

What originally promised to be a juicy mid-season matchup between two playoff contenders has morphed into a survival of the fittest affair as both teams enter Wednesday night’s game hampered by injuries and with depleted rosters. JaVale McGee joined the list of inactive players when it was announced Tuesday that he would be sitting with a sore knee.

It looks like I’ll get my wish as Bismack Biyombo will assume the starting center role.

The Suns, who boast the best record in the NBA at 37-9, are looking to extend their seven-game winning streak. The Utah Jazz, who currently have the fourth best record in the Western Conference at 30-18, are trying to keep pace with the Memphis Grizzlies, who are 1.5 games ahead of them in the standings.

Probable Starting Lineups

Uniform Tracker

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
  • Frank Kaminsky (knee soreness) is OUT
  • Deandre Ayton (ankle) is OUT
  • Jae Crowder (wrist) is OUT
  • Cameron Payne (wrist) is OUT
  • Abdel Nader (knee) is OUT
  • JaVale McGee (knee soreness) is OUT

Jazz:

  • Rudy Gobert (calf) is OUT
  • Donovan Mitchell (concussion) is OUT

What to Watch For

It will be a challenge for both squads to play consistently as both are putting forth rosters that, quite frankly, have not played many minutes together. The team that appears to mesh the best, to play as a unit with more cohesion, and executes on both sides of the ball will be the winner. Yeah, that’s every game. But when you have such depleted rosters, it becomes absolutely paramount to success.

With both Mitchell and Gobert out in this game, the Phoenix Suns have a clear advantage: Chris Paul. Somehow, someway, this guy hasn’t been mentioned in any MVP conversations. He’s navigated this team, despite numerous injuries and missed games, to the best record in the National Basketball Association. He has been an iron man who makes everyone on his team better. And when the going gets tough, Chris Paul gets going. His clutch time statistics alone should garner MVP worthy conversation. But the mid-range isn’t sexy, so therefore the Point God will continue to receive no MVP love.

It will be interesting to see how the Suns operate on the block and in the paint. Bismack Biyombo will receive his first start of the year, and Jalen Smith should get minutes after not seeing time over the past three games (even with Ayton sidelined).

Keys to a Suns Win

The paint is where this game will be won or lost, but I’m going a different route. Landry Shamet. He was brought here to provide an offensive spark for the Phoenix Suns off of the bench. He is supposedly a three-point specialist. There will be plenty of opportunities for him to shine in a game that will not have Cameron Payne, who keeps the Suns offensively afloat when CP3 and Booker are not in the game. Shamet’s 7.4 points on 37.1/35.1/84.3 splits isn’t going to cut it. We need more from Landry, especially on nights like tonight.

The Suns will go tonight as Landry Shamet goes. Which is a scary thought.

Prediction

All of the signs point to a tough game against the Jazz tonight. But the streak stays alive as Landry Shamet reads this piece, realizes it’s his time to shine, and scores 21 off of the bench.

Suns 103, Jazz 98

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