When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Watch: Bally Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
DraftKings Betting Lines: Suns (-3.5), over/under 241
The Phoenix Suns face the Sacramento Kings in a very important game for Western Conference seeding. The game will be televised by Bally Sports Arizona.
Sacramento is currently tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Phoenix is 2.5 games back and has a chance to move closer toward the Kings with a win Saturday night.
The Suns will be shorthanded, as superstar forward Kevin Durant sprained his ankle prior to his anticipated home debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday. Durant will be re-evaluated in three weeks, according to the Suns.
If Phoenix wins tonight, it will hold the tiebreaker over the Kings, which could be a deciding factor in which team is seeded higher before the postseason. The Suns won each of their two previous meetings against the Kings this season.
Like Phoenix – which has won 16 of its last 21 games – Sacramento has been very good of late, winning 10 of its last 13 contests.
Here are some of the notable statistics for each team provided by TeamRankings.
- Points per game: Phoenix (No. 19, 113.3), Sacramento (No. 1, 121.1)
- Assists per game: Phoenix (No. 4, 27.2), Sacramento (No. 3, 27.2)
- Rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 8, 52.8), Sacramento (No. 25, 49.2)
- Average scoring margin: Phoenix (No. 9, +2.4), Sacramento (No. 8, +2.8)
- Offensive efficiency: Phoenix (No. 16), Sacramento (No. 1)
- Team shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 22, 46.7), Sacramento (No. 2, 50.0)
- Effective field goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 20, 53.6), Sacramento (No. 2, 57.7)
- 3-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 5, 38.0), Sacramento (No. 10, 36.9)
- 2-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 29, 51.7), Sacramento (No. 1, 59.3)
- Blocks per game: Phoenix (No. 9, 5.0), Sacramento (No. 29, 3.2)
- Steals per game: Phoenix (No. 12, 7.3), Sacramento (No. 20, 7.0)
- Turnovers per game: Phoenix (No. 13, 14.0), Sacramento (No. 15, 14.0)
- Opponent points per game: Phoenix (No. 3, 110.9), Sacramento (No. 27, 118.3)
- Opponent shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 5, 46.4), Sacramento (No. 29, 49.5)
- Opponent effective field-goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 5, 53.0), Sacramento (No. 28, 56.4)
- Defensive efficiency: Phoenix (No. 4), Sacramento (No. 26)
- Opponent 3-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 13, 35.7), Sacramento (No. 25, 37.2)
- Opponent 2-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 5, 52.8), Sacramento (No. 26, 56.7)
- Opponent total rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 13, 50.7), Sacramento (No. 4, 49.5)
Likely Starting Lineups
- PG Chris Paul
- G Devin Booker
- G Josh Okogie
- F Torrey Craig
- C Deandre Ayton
- G De’Aaron Fox
- G Kevin Huerter
- F Keegan Murray
- F Harrison Barnes
- F Domantas Sabonis
- F Kevin Durant :( (ankle) is OUT
- G Landry Shamet (foot) is OUT
No injuries reported
Courtesy of lockervision.nba.com
What to Watch For
The Suns have a homecourt advantage for one of their most important games left in the regular season. Sacramento is in the same division as Phoenix, which is looking to survive multiple weeks without Durant available.
The Suns have been confident in their ability to withstand adversity this season. They had Booker out for over a month due to a groin strain and were able to find a groove toward the end of his recovery process. Unfortunately for Phoenix, it had former forwards Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson available during that time but will be thinner this time.
Phoenix’s development before playoff time is not complete. Even though Durant is out, Suns coach Monty Williams is likely fine-tuning his rotation so it is more consistent. Phoenix has multiple options it can use off its bench, including wing Terrence Ross – who had six 3-pointers Wednesday against the Thunder – and forwards TJ Warren and Darius Bazley.
That list will grow when Shamet returns. He is expected to be re-evaluated in one week.
Nonetheless, the Suns still have a game they must win Saturday. Phoenix has played the Kings twice this season and has won both games. Sacramento, which is statistically the best offensive team in the league by major category, scored 117 points and then 109 against the Suns in those two games.
Phoenix is one of the league’s best defensive teams and will need a concentrated effort on that end to beat Sacramento. Fox, who was named an All-Star replacement, might be the most underrated player in the NBA. He shoots 51.5 percent from the field and can hit a 3-point shot, though he is less consistent from that range (51.5 percent).
He and Sabonis are one of the best tandems in the NBA. Fox can attack the basket well and find Sabonis for post touch shots, and Sabonis is a very good passer (7.0 assists per game) who can be a facilitator at an uncommon position.
The Kings have productive role players around those two stars, including Huerter (15.1 points per game), Barnes (15.0 points per game), backup guard Malik Monk (13.7 points per game) and Murray (11.9 points per game). Sacramento has three more players who average greater than five points per game off the bench: Trey Lyles (7.9); Terence Davis (6.7); and Davion Mitchell (5.7).
Sacramento is led by coach Mike Brown, who coached the Cleveland Cavaliers in superstar forward LeBron James’ first stint with the team. Brown is also a four-time NBA champion as an assistant coach and served as associate head coach for the Golden State Warriors from 2016-17 to 2021-22.
The Suns and Kings have played 243 times dating back to the 1968-69 season, when Phoenix was founded and Sacramento was then known as the Cincinnati Royals. The team was established as the Sacramento Kings prior to the 1985-86 season.
A divisional rivalry, the Suns and Kings have split their last eight meetings. No team has won at least four straight games against the other since Sacramento did from the 2015-16 to 2016-17 season.
Keys to a Suns Win
The Suns will be tested without Durant and especially on the defensive end. Sacramento can score in a lot of ways and is one of the most difficult teams to stop given its coaching from Brown and rare facilitation combo between Fox and Sabonis.
Defensive matchups will be interesting for this game. The Suns have Okogie in their starting lineup, and he is often tasked with the opposing team’s best player. Could that put him on Fox? Or, how will that matchup be attacked?
The Suns started the same five they are expected to tonight against the Kings Feb. 14. Here were the defensive matchups at the start of the game:
Paul on Johnson
Booker on Huerter
Okogie on Fox
Craig on Barnes
Ayton on Sabonis
Sacramento has a clear advantage against Paul, who will be tested. Thankfully for the Suns, they have multiple matchups they can attack, especially with Ayton on Sabonis, who is not perceived to be a great defender.
Ayton had 29 points in the last meeting while shooting 13-of-17 (76.5 percent) from the field with 11 rebounds. Booker had 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting (65.0 percent) with five rebounds and two assists. Paul had a sensational game with 19 assists, which was his season-high.
The Suns picked apart Sacramento’s defense and shot 50-of-88 (56 percent) from the field, including 43-of-66 from inside the arc, where they have not been as effective this season.
Phoenix had 62 points in the paint that contest compared to Sacramento’s 40. The Suns overcame 59 combined points from Fox (35) and Sabonis (24).
You can look at the box score for that game here.
Durant’s absence is very inopportune for the Suns, who are looking to build their team chemistry before playoff time. When Durant returns, will it be enough time for Phoenix to gel and build itself into a championship contender? That remains to be seen.
There is no time to sulk, however. Sacramento is one of the league’s best teams for a reason. It has not had success against the Suns this season, but each game is different.
The Kings have not been in this position before, however, where they have to fight for postseason positioning. Once they get in a playoff series, who knows how prepared they will be?
For tonight, however, Sacramento will prevail ahead of a short-handed Suns team. The teams play one more time in Sacramento Feb. 24, which could be the deciding factor between a tiebreaker for the teams.
Kings 110, Suns 105
When the game is over, join the Suns JAM Session Podcast as we discuss the game live on YouTube.