When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Watch: Bally Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
It’s Valentine’s Day and our heart is with the Suns. They are one of many things that we love that don’t love us back. Was that too harsh? My wife reminds me of it every time I’m upset when they end their season without a ring. “They don’t love you”. Ouch!
Phoenix is home for their final two games prior to the All-Star break, and both are important. The Western Conference is quite the kerfuffle relative to standings. Any win – or winning streak – matters at this stage of the season. Those victories carry even more weight when you are playing against your conference or division rivals.
This week’s challenges for the Suns begin with a strangely significant matchup against the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings didn’t make much of a fuss at the trade deadline as they are looking to make the postseason for the first time since Mike Bibby was on the team in 2006. They like what they have, and they should. Sac Town is a quality basketball team that could beat you in a plethora of ways.
With All Star Domantas Sabonis, they can beat you on the interior with size of physicality. With All Star De’Aaron Fox, they can beat you with unrivaled speed. And with wings such as Harrison Barnes and rookie Keegan Murray, they could beat you with length and athleticism.
Phoenix enters the game following a slew of transactions during the trade deadline and we hope to see most of them in uniform and on the court for the first time on Tuesday. T.J. Warren is back, and Darius Bazley hopes to make an impact for the team as well.
Open your Valentine’s Day cards, settle in with your box of chocolates, and enjoy a Pacific Division matchup!
I’m not 100% sure if T.J. Warren will start, but it feels great putting him back in there!
- Cameron Payne (foot) is OUT
- Landry Shamet (foot) is OUT
- Kevin Durant (knee) is OUT
- Malik Monk (ankle) is OUT
What to Watch For
The Kings score the most points per game in the NBA (119.6 points per game) and the Suns, who are fielding a team with some new additions, will be challenged with trying to D them up. Playing defense is one of the toughest things to perform in the NBA, and it gets increasingly worse when there are a lot of new players on the court.
Thankfully, it’s only two new players. Because anything more than that on the court at the same time would get roasted by this Kings offense.
Watch to see how Phoenix plays the switches when T.J. Warren and Darius Bazley are in the game. See how the team communicates. Stopping the Kings offense will be tough, but seeing that they are 22nd in the league in opposing points and defensive rating, they’ll let you hang around in the game.
Keys to a Suns Win
When Domantas Sabonis is on the other side of the court, it comes down to Deandre Ayton, right?
Sabonis is a rebounding machine – second in the league at 12.2 rebounds per game and 11th with 2.9 offensive rebounds per game – and due to his size of physicality, is the prototypical center who can give Deandre Ayton fits on the glass.
The key for a Suns victory is to not allow offensive rebounds for the Kings.
They are already the highest scoring offense in the league, no need to give them a second chance at possessions. Sacramento is 25th in the league in offensive rebounding, so it comes down to what Torrey Craig can do while Ayton is the focus of the opposition’s box outs.
Take a look at the second chance points statistic at the end of this game. Whoever owns this owns the victory.
Mat Ishbia has re-energized this roster in this fan base. My guess is, if you attend the game tonight, you will feel it in the stands. The fanfare, the noise, the excitement. The Kevin Durant jersey’s.
Behind the tidal wave of emotion, I see the Phoenix Suns defeating the Sacramento Kings. Yes, I’ve mentioned numerous times that the Kings have the best offense in the league. But the Suns give up the 5th least points in the NBA (111.3) and have the ninth best defensive rating (112.7).
Devin Booker goes for 37 tonight, the crowd erupts following two T.J. Warren three-point shots, and the Suns win an important game on Valentine’s Day.
Now I think that is something that we can all love.
Suns 116, Kings 112
When the game is over, join the Suns JAM Session Podcast as we discuss the game live on YouTube: