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Game Preview: Suns face off against Knicks in a Sunday afternoon matchup at MSG

The surging Suns, who have won 8 of their last 10 games, face off against the defensively-minded New York Knicks.

NBA: New York Knicks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (10-6) vs. New York Knicks (9-6)

When: 4:00 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Watch: AZ Family Sports

Listen: 98.7 FM

DraftKings Betting Lines: Suns +3, O/U 221 Suns Moneyline -120


The Phoenix Suns face off against the 5th placed (9-6) New York Knicks on Sunday afternoon in The Garden after their In-Season Tournament win versus the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, winning 110-89. Most people will look at this margin of victory as just a blowout, but that was not nearly the most important part of the outcome of the game.

This win gave the Suns the exact amount of points to automatically push them forward into the next round of the debut In-Season tournament, capped off with this difficult Devin Booker three-banked three home to seal the win at the end of the game. Simply put, Book continues to prove his capabilities of showing up in big moments whether he realizes it or not.

With room to breathe now that the uncertainty of the path forward in the tournament is (almost) settled, the Suns can now shift their attention to continuing to stockpile wins and continue their road trip after winning their last 6 games in a row. A major key to accomplishing this is the availability of Kevin Durant, who at this time, is listed as questionable with the same foot soreness that kept him out of last game’s contest per AZSports’ Kellan Olson.

This injury does not appear too serious, as Durant most likely used a combination of the discomfort experienced with the fact he had not taken a game off at all this season to not suit up against the Grizzlies. Therefore, it will be important to monitor his status leading up to tip-off. Durant has been on an absolute tear this season, averaging 31.4 PTS, 7.1 REBS, and 5.5 ASTS on insane 53.3/52.2/89.1 shooting splits.

Definitely worthy of MVP talks for the 16-year vet, especially with the added pressure of carrying the offensive load while Book missed time and Beal continuing to be out until around Christmas time with his back injury. The superstar is playing some of the basketball of his career and should be as much in the conversation as anyone else for the award.

The Knicks are coming off an In-Season Tournament win against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat, winning 100-98. Jalen Brunson led all scorers with 24 points, as the Knicks prepare for their second of a four-game home stretch.

The Knicks have four players averaging double-figures in scoring including the aforementioned Brunson (24 PPG), Duke product RJ Barrett (20.5 PPG), All-Star Julius Randle (19.1 PPG) whose numbers have been down this season in both production and efficiency, and the flashy Immanuel Quickley who is solidifying himself as one of the best reserve guard options in the league (15.7 PPG).

Quickley was a major part of the comeback against the Heat scoring 20 points off the bench when being down as much as 21 towards the end of the third quarter. He praised about the team’s mentality and not letting up despite facing a major deficit.

Likely Starting Lineups

Suns

  • G Devin Booker
  • G Grayson Allen
  • G Eric Gordon
  • F Kevin Durant (QUESTIONABLE)
  • C Jusuf Nurkic

Knicks

  • G Jalen Brunson
  • G Quentin Grimes
  • F RJ Barrett
  • F Julius Randle
  • C Mitchell Robinson

Injury Report

Phoenix:

  • Drew Eubanks - PROBABLE (Left Ankle Sprain)
  • Yuta Watanabe - QUESTIONABLE (Left Quad Contusion)
  • Bradley Beal - OUT (Low Back Strain)
  • Damion Lee - OUT (Right Meniscus Surgery)

Knicks:

None

Uniform Matchup

Courtesy of NBA LockerVision:

What to Watch For

Expect an extremely physical matchup with Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson patrolling the paint and versatile defenders such as Josh Hart making things difficult for the likes of Booker and KD (as long as he is playing). The Knicks rank 4th in the league in opposing points allowed in the paint (43.3) as well as 2nd in opposing total points (105.3), so New York will need to win this game on the defensive side of the ball.

Phoenix on the other hand is the number 7th highest-scoring offense in the league (117.2), and this number may be underrepresented due to the lack of games Booker and KD (and of course Beal) have had together on the floor. Look for Booker to try to utilize the matchup on some of the Knicks’ smaller guards such as Brunson and Grimes to get his buckets in isolation.

The three-pointer will also be a major factor in this one, as the Suns are riding the hot hand. at3rd best in percentage from behind the arc so far this season. That means the usual suspects such as Eric Gordon and Grayson Allen will need to assume their roles as sharpshooters. Getting Yuta Watanabe potentially back in the lineup will help this case as well, although he has been off to a slower start on the year at just (37.2 3P%).

Julius Randle will attempt to get Kevin Durant in foul trouble with his physicality on the block, and the same thing can be said for Mitchell Robinson on Jusuf Nurkic. Depth in the frontcourt will be key to winning this one, and getting good minutes from Drew Eubanks (probable) who has impressed in recent play with his verticality and three-point shooting (you heard me right) will be a major factor.

As long as the Suns control the paint by rebounding effectively winning the free throw battle by limiting foul trouble, they should have the ability to beat the rolling Knicks. It will be a tough battle throughout, so expect a scrappy victory that the Suns will have to earn in Madison Square Garden.

Prediction

Given that Kevin Durant plays, I believe that the Suns will be able to care of this Knicks squad. The margin of victory will not be over 10 regardless of winner, but the Suns will find the ability to win through a dominant 4th quarter led by their two stars and supporting cast that has been heating up recently.

The Suns have been red-hot shooting the basketball, so as long as notable defenders such as Josh Okogie and Nassir Little step up and are able to match up against the larger Julius Randle, they will have the offensive firepower to put the game away.

Suns 108, Knicks 100

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