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Game Preview: Suns head to the Alamo to face Spurs, matchups, game time, odds

Suns try to get back in the win column against West-basement Spurs

San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

What: San Antonio Spurs (6-17, last in West) at Phoenix Suns (15-7, first in West)

When: 2:00 PM AZ time

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM

DraftKings Betting Odds: Suns favored by 10.5 points, over/under is 229.5 total points


Here’s what I wrote on Friday as a preview to Suns hosting the West-worst Rockets: “If there ever was an easy game to bet on with your Harden-fan buddy who’s no longer paying attention to the NBA, this one’s it.” Well, that wasn’t it. The Suns had a 16-point third quarter lead at home but blew it and lost their 4th last-second game of the season.

My problem was that the Rapid Recap recap duties were in the Hands of Death, John Voita, who’s now lost 5 of 6 this season covering games. All other Bright Side writers are a combined 10-2. This time, I’ve got the recap so the JV curse is lifted.

Still, the Suns have a lot stacked against them. First, it’s on the road where they are a lowly 3-5 this season with three of those last-second losses in there. Second, Mikal Bridges either won’t play or might be severely limited with a knee strain (hyperextended in final seconds of Friday’s loss). Third, the Suns are already missing his last three power wing running mates. Torrey Craig, Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder are already unavailable for the game, not to mention PG maestro Chris Paul still being out.

Still, the Spurs are bad and the Suns have found ways to overcome obstacles all season, so let’s see how it shakes out.


Probable Starting Lineups

Injuries/Out

  • Suns — Mikal Bridges (hyperextended knee; strain) is PROBABLE; Torrey Craig (groin), Chris Paul (heel), Cameron Johnson (knee) and Jae Crowder (lifting at home) all OUT
  • Spurs — Josh Richardson (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE; Doug McDermott (ankle) is DOUBTFUL; Jakob Poeltl (knee) and Jeremy Sochan (quad) are OUT

Spurs Update

  • Offensive Rating: 107.4 (29th)
  • Defensive Rating: 117.9 (30th)
  • Net Rating: -10.4 (30th)

Remember when the Spurs basically punted seasons for the No. 1 pick? In both 1986-87 and 1996-97 they tanked better than anyone and earned the No. 1 overall pick in the next draft. That netted them two of the best No. 1 picks in NBA history in David Robinson and Tim Duncan, who helped them 22 straight playoffs and five NBA Championships.

All good things come to an end, though. After four straight years of MISSING the playoffs , seven years of failing to even make the second round, and not having a single All-Star level player on their current roster, it looks like they’re doing it again. They have, by far, the worst net rating in basketball and head coach Gregg Popovich is still employing the ‘DNP - Rest’ method with his best players, except this time to strategically lose.

The prize is Victor Wembanyama, who might just be the best prospect in NBA history. Consolation prizes for those who don’t win the lottery include another handful of potentially franchise-altering prospects. The Spurs plan to ascend back to relevance is the same as if was 35 years ago: find that next franchise player in the Draft.

Does that mean Pop will maneuver a loss this afternoon? No. You still have to win 20 or so games, keep up the morale of your team while losing 60, and what better way to do that than notch a feel-good win against the conference’s best team?

Expect a hard-fighting Spurs team today, even if you don’t recognize any of the players.


Suns Update

  • Offensive Rating: 116.7 (2nd)
  • Defensive Rating: 109.7 (6th)
  • Net Rating: +7.0 (3rd)

Losing to the bottom-feeding Rockets on Friday night is a face-slap reminder that these are all still NBA teams, loaded with the best talent in the world. Any team can win on any given night.

Lately, the Suns have been winning with a patchwork lineup missing a handful of important role players and an All-NBA point guard. Most games, half the Suns rotation are minimum-salary players and two-ways. Yet, they lead the West thanks to stalwarts Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges.

I wrote about Booker and Ayton yesterday.

The bummer news is that Ironman Mikal Bridges — who’s never missed an NBA game, college game or high school game — is hobbled with a sore right knee after suffering a hyperextension in the final seconds of the Suns-Rockets game on Friday night. He’s listed as PROBABLE today, but the Suns have three games in the next four days (Spurs, Mavericks, Celtics) so color me pessimistic he’s full strength for any of those.

That puts even more pressure on Booker and Ayton rise to the occasion and carry these Suns to victory as everyone around them falls to the side.

Head coach Monty Williams surprisingly pulled Dario Saric from the end of the bench to a starting role on Friday night as the power wing next to Ayton and Bridges. Dario is 14th out of 15 players in total minutes played this year, and had played a grand total of 12 minutes in the last 9 games. Yet, there he was in the starting lineup against Houston when Torrey Craig was ruled out.

Why pull a guy from the cobwebs into a starting role?

“It bothers me that the decisions I make has an impact on these guys’ careers,” Monty Williams said earlier this week, when asked what’s the most challenging thing he’s faced as a head coach.

Williams did not say any names in particular, but we know who he’s talking about. Over the last few seasons he’s had to make several rotational decisions that definitely hurt the future income of some of his players. E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway, Frank Kaminsky and Elfrid Payton were all regular rotation players before joining the Suns, all took guaranteed contracts in Phoenix, and all languished outside the rotation for most of the year and lost future income, at the very least, or ended up out of the league. Even young Jalen Smith lost future money due to Monty’s rotational decisions.

So you can understand why, when given an opportunity, Williams finds ways to dust off Josh Okogie, Bismack Biyombo and Dario Saric when given the chance this season. Even if it means losing a game or two because he’s benched some more effective players to do it.

It’s early in the season, folks. The Suns are still leading the West. They would rather be at their strongest in April, not December. So please show some patience when you see Jock Landale lose his spot to Bismack Biyombo for a while. Or when Dario Saric shows up in the starting lineup out of nowhere. There’s bigger things in life than winning every play of every minute of every game.


Prediction

The Suns might be down to Dario and Ish Wainright at the wing for big chunks of this game. It’s going to take a few of the other players to have really good games for the Suns to win this on the road.

They’re favored to win by 10.5 points. I don’t think the Suns win by 10+ today with so many people out, and Monty probably wanting to limit Book/Ayton minutes ahead of Dallas on Monday and Celtics on Wednesday.

I’ll predict a Suns win, 115-110, so if I was putting money down I’d put it on the Spurs side.

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