When: 8PM AZ time (8:12 tipoff)
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Watch: ESPN (national, subscription), Arizona Family (local, free)
Listen: 98.7 FM
While the Phoenix Suns are adding important players to their rotation, the Knicks just suffered the loss of their best interior defender, Mitchell Robinson (ankle). But that doesn’t mean you should chalk up Friday as a win for the Suns.
Friday’s game gives the Suns another chance to figure out the best way to utilize all the talents that Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Bradley Beal bring to the table as players in the the same uniform while using their own point guard talents to run the offense.
KD and Book have had a lot more time to do that — 19 whole regular games (15-4 record) since last February. This season, these 11 games include only a single 5-game stint that wasn’t interrupted by injury. That’s not a lot, which should take some of the shock value over losing their last two, even including Beal in the mix. In other words, don’t expect the Suns to cruise to victory on their high-flying offense. Just hope they make progress on who’s gonna be where.
Early Injury Lists
Let’s give Devin his flowers. While he hadn’t hit a game-winning shot in a couple of years, he banged this one on in against the Knicks so purely it almost looked staged. Certainly, you’ll see that shot in highlight packs for years to come.
Thibs’ defensive play call for the final play was perfect, but it was the Knicks’ poor execution that let them down. RJ is a step slow to recover back to Booker, but it is Julius’ lack of contest that lets Booker get the shot off to hit the game winner. pic.twitter.com/YixKoKvx8o— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) November 27, 2023
Devin Booker’s game-winner. Beautiful shot. Unfortunately for the Knicks, it dashed their hopes of taking the win.pic.twitter.com/FcHAma75s1— Ricard Blanco (@RicardBlancoo) November 27, 2023
The game is also a microcosm of the Suns season. The Suns pulled ahead for a comfortable lead the whole game, only to allow the Knicks to right all the way back and force heroics for the the Suns win.
The Knicks won their first three coming off that Booker loss, but now have stumbled to three losses in four games, made worse by the long term (8-10 week minimum) injury to center Mitchell Robinson. Now the Knicks are starting Jericho Sims at center.
So the Knicks will rely even more heavily on their Big Two of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle and hoping for a jolt from Quentin Grimes.
They kept saying that Jusuf Nurkic would look better next to the to Big Three, and.. they were right! Check this out for a lot more on how that’s already happening and will continue to improve.
I’m sure everyone is feeling excited about the offense while Frank Vogel and staff might lose patience with defense. Like, a lot of patience is going to be needed to find that right combination of support players to make the defense work.
I find it interesting that Book, Durant, and Beal have gotten themselves completely removed from the injury report. That's a big confidence boost, or at least a morale boost to know there’s no lingering that could hold them back.
Each Team’s Keys to Winning a Game
Suns keys to winning:
- Attack the paint with Robinson out; grab more offensive boards than they do
- Take more than 70% of defensive boards
- Stop throwing lazy backcourt passes that lead to fast break
- Make wide open threes!
Knicks keys to winning
- Randle relentlessly bully-balls defender into the paint for easy shots
- Make all the open threes off that and other paint action
- Get the Big Three in foul trouble
Suns are at home. Knicks are scuffling, and missing their defensive anchor.
The Suns have the Big Three. And they will get the Big W.
Suns 124, Knicks 110