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Game Preview: Suns take their second crack at breaking the franchise record in OKC

After failing to do so in Memphis, the Suns face the Thunder for win #63

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix has not lost back-to-back games since the end of February. Will that change tonight?
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (62-15, 1st in West) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (22-55, 14th in West)

When: 4:00 PM AZ Time

Where: Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


The Suns are coming off a disappointing loss in Memphis, 122-114. Despite missing three key starters in Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams, and the All-Star Ja Morant, as well as Tyus Jones off the bench, the Grizzlies defended their home court and snapped the Suns’ nine-game win streak.

Dillon Brooks led Memphis with 30 points as seven different players scored in double-digits for the Grizzlies, while Devin Booker carried Phoenix with 41 points, but only Mikal Bridges and Cam Payne joined him in the double-digits with 18 and 11 points respectively.

This season has not been kind to the Thunder and their developing roster, and these last few weeks have been no different. Since the All-Star break, the Thunder have lost 15 of 19 games, including a loss on Friday night to the Detroit Pistons, 110-101.

But as the team continues its journey through the hellscape of ‘rebuilding’, these losses are almost welcome by the fans and the front office, who are already looking ahead to the lottery and the NBA Draft.


Probable Starters

Suns

  • PG - Chris Paul
  • SG - Landry Shamet
  • SF - Mikal Bridges
  • PF - Cam Johnson
  • C - JaVale McGee

Out/Injured: Deandre Ayton (rest), Devin Booker (rest), Frank Kaminsky (knee recovery), Jae Crowder (right ankle soreness), Dario Saric (knee recovery)

Thunder

  • PG - Théo Maledon
  • SG - Aaron Wiggins
  • SF - Vit Krejčí
  • PF - Jaylen Hoard
  • C - Isaiah Roby

Out/Injured: Aleksej Pokusevski (illness - QUESTIONABLE), Jerome Robinson-Earl (foot - QUESTIONABLE), Darius Bazley (knee), Lugentz Dort (shoulder recovery), Derrick Favors (back), Josh Giddey (hip), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ankle), Ty Jerome (hernia recovery), Tre Mann (hamstring), Mike Muscala (ankle recovery), Kenrich Williams (knee)

What to Watch for

With Booker and Deandre Ayton resting, and Jae Crowder out as well, Suns fans can expect head coach Monty Williams to lean heavily on his bench unit. Landry Shamet, Cam Johnson, and JaVale McGee seem most likely to move into the starting lineup.

Off the bench, Payne and Aaron Holiday should expect to see major minutes at both guard positions. Elfrid Payton, who has not played since Mar. 23, could get some minutes as well.

Williams might also look to the new guy, Gabriel “Iffe” Lundberg. The 27-year-old guard signed with the Suns on a two-way deal on Mar. 12 and has yet to make his historic debut as the first Danish-grown to play in the NBA. Tonight’s matchup looks to be his best chance yet. Lundberg had been playing in Russia with CSKA Moscow since Feb. 2021, until fleeing to Denmark last month following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As for the Suns’ frontcourt, Torrey Craig will see plenty of time with Johnson having only just returned to action. Bismack Biyombo will likely split the center minutes with McGee, and Ish Wainwright might also see some action, with Williams lacking forward options.

But considering the lack of size available to the Thunder, it is also likely that Williams will get extra creative with his lineups to cover up his lack of forward options. Payton has the size to match most wings and Wainwright certainly has the strength to hold down the middle. Willaims will probably use this opportunity to see just how flexible his bench can be.


Prediction

Tough to see Phoenix losing this despite their absences, but it might be a struggle offensively.

Suns 96-90 Thunder