When: 5:30 p.m. AZ Time (MT)
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Watch: Bally Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
The Suns come into this one without their newly acquired superstar swingman, Kevin Durant, as well as being sans their best wings in Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, who have exited in exchange for Durant. The Suns will also be without Devin Booker, who is getting a prescribed day off while working back into NBA shape after the long layoff from the groin strain.
They’ll be tethered some, but have won each of the first three on a five-game road trip.
Keeping the on-court as the topic at hand, this is a match-up that saw the Atlanta Hawks come into the Footprint Center just a week ago and put a 132-100 beat down on the Suns.
In that match-up, the Suns saw the Hawks pick them apart in pick-and-roll with Young (20 points, 12 assists) and Murray (21 points, 8 assists) at the helm. They’d initiate an attack that knocked down 19 threes (on 57.6%) and completely up-end the Suns defensive schemes.
The Hawks would also pummel the Suns in transition, and finished with a dominant 130.5 offensive rating.
With that in mind, I’m fully expecting the Suns to compile that signature prideful energy in attempts to draw even on the season-series.
· Chris Paul
· Damion Lee
· Josh Okogie
· Torrey Craig
· Deandre Ayton
· Trae Young
· Dejounte Murray
· De’Andre Hunter
· John Collins
· Clint Capela
- Landry Shamet (OUT - foot)
- Cam Payne (OUT - foot)
- Devin Booker (OUT - injury recovery management)
- Kevin Durant (not yet with team, but OUT for knee pain management anyway)
- T.J. Warren (not yet with team)
- Donovan Williams (OUT)
- Trent Forrest (OUT)
- Tyrese Martin (OUT)
They’ve lost six of their last nine, including coming off a road trip where they went 2-3, which was concluded by two frigid offensive showings where they averaged just 107.5 points.
They’ll be looking to reignite themselves in front of their home crowd, and play off of the energy their raucous crowds typically provide.
Over the last two weeks, their offense ranks third in the league (121.6), they can knock down a ton of threes in a heartbeat if the requisite attention to detail isn’t put forth.
Since January 19th, the Suns have the NBA’s fourth-best defense (108.4 points allowed) and they’re third in the half-court (92.8 points allowed).
The point of emphasis for the Suns in this one should be controlling the pace, with their defense being prioritized as it has been, in addition to Chris Paul really monitoring the tempo of the game.
Which, then, allows for the strength of their recently resurfaced staunch and active defense to be the pillar of their efforts, as it’s been this entire road trip.
Rotations have been sharp, communication has been very good, and they’ve been on schedule with their scheme changes.
Paul's discernment with when they decide to run, in tandem with them keeping their defense set, is the blueprint to garnering a win here.
Ayton and company have had some good reps compiled with him up closer to or at the level of the screen on specific opponents, and the bench has been great with ancillary activity.
Speaking of Ayton, in the aforementioned window since January 19th, he’s up to per-game averages of 23.5 points, 13.1 rebounds (3.4 offensive), and 2.3 assists.
He’s also up to 16.9 field goal attempts per, on 59.3% as well.
Suns win streak expands to four games as they avenge themselves from last Thursdays lackluster showing, and play off of the exhilarating excitement of the big piece to join them in the coming weeks, against a reeling Hawks team.