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Game Preview: Suns take NBA’s best road record to Sacramento

Phoenix is 27-6 on the road. Sacramento is 16-22 at home.

Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (57-14) @ Sacramento Kings (25-47)

When: 3:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM

DraftKings Betting Odds:

https://sportsbook.draftkings.com/event/180266056

Phoenix has not played Sacramento since November 8, 2021, defeating the Kings 109-104. That win pushed the Suns’ record to 6-3. They’ve gone 51-11 since then. The Kings, who dropped to 5-6 after that loss, have gone in the opposite direction, posting a 20-41 since November 8.

This is the first of two meetings in the final 11 regular season games against Sacramento for the Suns, and both meetings appear to be the easiest games remaining. The combined record of the other 9 opponents for Phoenix to close the season is 352-285 (.553). In short? The team must take advantage of these matchups if they want to break the franchise record for regular season wins in a year (62).

The Suns are a league best 32-4 against teams who are under .500, and that is right where Sacramento lives, and has lived, since 2006.

Starting Lineups

Uniform Tracker

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
  • Frank Kaminsky (knee soreness) is OUT
  • Chris Paul (thumb) is OUT
  • Cameron Johnson (thigh contusion) is OUT
  • Jae Crowder (groin) is QUESTIONABLE

Sacramento:

  • De’Aaron Fox (hand) is QUESTIONABLE
  • Terrence Davis (wrist) is OUT
  • Richaun Holmes (personal) is OUT
  • Jeremy Lamb (personal) is OUT

What to Watch For

Does it feel strange watching the Phoenix Suns play on a Sunday afternoon against a team that does not have playoff aspirations? Yes!

My eyes will drift where they typically do…towards the paint. Since joining the Kings in a trade with the Indiana Pacers, Domantas Sabonis has averaged 11.8 rebounds, good for 6th in the NBA during that time frame. The Kings hoped he would develop a connection with G De’Aaron Fox. But in 14 games this season, Fox has assisted Sabonis only 23 times and they have a combined +/- rating of -17.

Still, it is Domantas Sabonis, a guy plays well against Deandre Ayton.

It seems that every time the Suns play, I focus on the Ayton matchup. He is priming himself up for the playoffs, and we’ve seen his uptick in energy and engagement over the past 8 games. In that time, Ayton is averaging 21.3 points and 11 rebounds. Manly.

Ayton will have his hands full with Sabonis, so the task of shutting down the remaining Kings falls on the shoulders of his teammates. It is a task they will surely invite, knowing that one of their 14 losses came early in the season at the hands of Sacramento, albeit on a Harrison Barnes buzzer-beater.

If the you or the Suns need motivation to get up for a game against the Kings, just watch...

Fun Fact

The first time these two teams met in Sacramento – the Kings played in Kansas City and Omaha, and were the Cincinnati Royals before their move to California in 1985 – was a 111-107 victory for the Kings. The Suns received 20+ point efforts from James Edwards, Walter Davis, and Larry Nance, but the balanced scoring attack from Sacramento was too much as they had six players in double figures.

Including 10 from Eddie Johnson.

Keys to a Suns Win

Speaking of Eddie Johnson, he said it best on the Bally Sports AZ broadcast during the game against the Houston Rockets, “The Suns are in the process of finishing the season”. This team is playoff bound, and they enter the night with their magic number to clinch the #1 spot in the Western Conference at 4. They are jockeying for positioning like many teams right now. They are simply going through the process of getting to the finish line.

That being said, a team that has 57 wins has a winning mentality and will do whatever they need to maintain an edge. Need an example? Simply listen to what Deandre Ayton said following their victory on Friday night against the Chicago Bulls:

The key to a Suns victory? Play within your means. Execute, execute, execute. The same thing they’ve done all season. It might not be sexy, but it’s effective.

Prediction

The depth of the Suns will be too much for the Kings, as it is for most teams. Even without their Hall of Fame point guard, their sharpshooting specialist, and their physical enforcer, they are still a lot to handle. The Suns will roll, scoring 129 for the third consecutive game.

Suns 129, Kings 108

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