When: 7:00 PM AZ Time
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Watch: Bally’s Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
The Phoenix Suns play host to Orlando Magic as the look to extend their dominance over Eastern Conference teams. They are currently 19-3 against eastern conference opponents and this will be the last of a 7 game stretch against teams from the east going back to the win against the Nets in the first game of February.
Following that huge win against the Milwaukee Bucks last Wednesday, everyone will be looking for, of course, the new additions after the trade deadline. This will be the first opportunity for the team to welcome back Torrey Craig and introduce newcomer Aaron Holiday to the arena and the city.
Orlando, on the other hand, comes in to Arizona at the second back of a very difficult back-to-back, after playing in Utah last night. They lost 114-99, making it the 22nd time this season the team did not reach the 100 points mark, all losses. It’s interesting to note that Jalen Suggs was listed as questionable due to a achilles soreness, but started the game nonetheless. Being a top-rated rookie on a tanking team, it would be expected Orlando would be more careful with an achilles situation.
Likely Starting Lineups
- Chris Paul
- Devin Booker
- Mikal Bridges
- Jae Crowder
- Deandre Ayton
- Cole Anthony
- Jalen Suggs
- Franz Wagner
- Wendell Carter Jr.
- Mo Bamba
Landry Shamet (OUT - ankle) ; Cameron Payne (OUT - wrist); Frank Kaminsky (OUT - knee); Dario Saric (OUT - knee);
Moritz Wagner (OUT - rib); Bol Bol (OUT - foot);PJ Dozier (OUT - knee); Markelle Fultz (OUT - knee); RJ Hampton (OUT - knee); Jonathan Isaac (OUT - knee); Jalen Suggs (Questionable - achilles).
What to Watch For
Guard rotation: With Cameron Payne still out and Elfrid Payton (really) slowly improving, I’m interested to see how Monty will include new addition Aaron Holiday into the rotation. It’s super early to throw him out there, but also, unlike with Torrey, he will need as much reps as he can possibly get while Payne is out, if the team wants him to be remotely useful in the future. And you could not wish for a better opponent to try out new stuff and take some risks, as Orlando is battling in the bottom of the NBA standings.
I do expect Aaron to see some time on the floor, it’s just a matter of Chris Paul and Devin Booker accepting fewer minutes in the rotation - those sickos - if the game is not exactly comfortable.
Booker: Speaking of Booker, I’m sure he will look to score tonight after a somewhat disappointing performance against Milwaukee. Don’t get me wrong, the Suns overall were awesome last game, including Booker, but if we know him at all, we know he was not happy going 6-19 for 17 points. With Orlando missing any great perimeter defenders, I do expect Booker to come out aggressive and efficient.
Wing Rotation: It will be great to see Torrey Craig back in, but I will be looking for how his minutes may impact Cam Johnson’s. I do believe there are about 10 minutes available in the wing, but I do expect it to come out of a heavy minute load for Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder, who are averaging almost 35 and 29 per game, respectively.
Cam Johnson is in the midst of a great season and looking to be increasingly aggressive on both ends of the floor. He’s averaging 26 minutes per game and I’d like to see that stay the same, as Monty has repeatedly said they look at him as a Starter.
Another place Craig’s minutes might come from is in small five line-ups, as well as from the three guard line-ups Monty has put out there during the season.
The Suns will beat the Magic pretty handedly and give some time to theirs starters to rest. I say a 115-98 win.