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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns face Oklahoma City Thunder in early afternoon game

The Suns and Thunder will play one more time after this

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (38-32) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (34-36)

When: 12:30 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Watch: Bally Sports AZ

Listen: 98.7 FM

DraftKings Betting Lines: Suns (-1), over/under 234.5

The Phoenix Suns face the Oklahoma City Thunder in an early-afternoon game Sunday. It will be televised by Bally Sports Arizona.

Here are some of the notable statistics for each team provided by TeamRankings.

  • Points per game: Phoenix (No. 20, 113.3), Oklahoma City (No. 3, 117.8)
  • Assists per game: Phoenix (No. 4, 27.1), Oklahoma City (No. 19, 24.7)
  • Rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 9, 52.6), Oklahoma City (No. 15, 51.5)
  • Average scoring margin: Phoenix (No. 9, +1.8), Oklahoma City (No. 10, +1.4)
  • Offensive efficiency: Phoenix (No. 17), Oklahoma City (No. 12)
  • Team shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 22, 46.7), Oklahoma City (No. 21, 46.7)
  • Effective field goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 20, 53.6), Oklahoma City (No. 23, 53.4)
  • 3-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 7, 37.6), Oklahoma City (No. 15, 36.1)
  • 2-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 29, 51.9), Oklahoma City (No. 25, 52.9)
  • Blocks per game: Phoenix (No. 11, 5.0), Oklahoma City (No. 19, 4.4)
  • Steals per game: Phoenix (No. 12, 7.3), Oklahoma City (No. 3, 8.4)
  • Turnovers per game: Phoenix (No. 14, 13.9), Oklahoma City (No. 5, 13.2)
  • Opponent points per game: Phoenix (No. 4, 111.4), Oklahoma City (No. 20, 116.3)
  • Opponent shooting percentage: Phoenix (No. 6, 46.6), Oklahoma City (No. 11, 47.0)
  • Opponent effective field-goal percentage: Phoenix (No. 6, 53.3), Oklahoma City (No. 15, 54.4)
  • Defensive efficiency: Phoenix (No. 5), Oklahoma City (No. 10)
  • Opponent 3-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 13, 35.9), Oklahoma City (No. 13, 35.9)
  • Opponent 2-point percentage: Phoenix (No. 6, 53.0), Oklahoma City (No. 14, 56.7)
  • Opponent total rebounds per game: Phoenix (No. 14, 50.9), Oklahoma City (No. 30, 54.9)

Likely Starting Lineups

Phoenix Suns

  • G Chris Paul
  • G Devin Booker
  • G/F Josh Okogie
  • F Torrey Craig
  • C Jock Landale OR Bismack Biyombo

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  • G Josh Giddey
  • F Luguentz Dort (Forks Up!)
  • F Jaylin Williams
  • F Jalen Williams



  • G Landry Shamet (foot) is PROBABLE
  • C Deandre Ayton (groin) is OUT
  • F Kevin Durant (ankle) is OUT

Oklahoma City

  • F Kenrich Williams (underwent wrist surgery Monday) is OUT
  • F Chet Holmgren (underwent secondary foot procedure for injury suffered in August) is OUT (for season)

Uniform Matchup

Courtesy of

What to Watch For

This is the third of four meetings between the Suns and Thunder this season. Phoenix and Oklahoma City will play once more April 2, which will also be a road game for the Suns.

The Thunder have one of the most exciting young players in the game, Gilgeous-Alexander. He received his first All-Star recognition this season and is fifth in the NBA in points per game (31.3) this season.

Obviously, we know the Thunder are manned by mastermind general manager Sam Presti, who notably drafted Kevin Durant – now a Phoenix Sun – Russell Westbrook and James Harden in successive seasons. Each of those players went on to win an MVP award and are recognized as some of the greatest players of all time.

Since then, the Thunder have stocked an incredible amount of first-round picks (17, by our count) through the 2029 draft. Correct me if I’m wrong on that count, my OCD drove me crazy counting it this morning.

On the floor, Oklahoma City has some exciting young pieces. Giddey, who is 20 years old, is a diverse player who averages 16.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. He is a great asset who very-much wanted to play with Holmgren, who is out of the rest of the season with a foot injury but should be a talented piece when he returns.

The Thunder also have Dort, who was a Pac-12 Freshman of the Year at Arizona State. He went undrafted out of ASU but has since signed a five-year, $82,500,000 contract. That’s a way to bet on yourself.

Jalen Williams (yes, there’s two of them, and the other is spelled Jaylin), who was drafted with the No. 12 pick this past June, has also made an impact with Oklahoma City.

In the last two meetings between the teams, the Suns were able to hold the Thunder under 45 percent shooting. Their most recent victory, which occurred two Wednesdays ago, saw them blow out Oklahoma City, 132-101. That was otherwise a depressing night since Durant rolled his ankle pregame.

Phoenix saw Booker roll the Thunder with 44 points. Phoenix also saw Paul (18 points), Ayton (12 points) and backup guard/wing Terrence Ross (24 points) in double figures.

All-Time Meetings

The Suns and Thunder have played 251 times dating back to the 1968-69 season, when Phoenix was founded and Oklahoma City was named the Seattle SuperSonics. The Suns have won 135 games.

The Thunder organization moved from Seattle, Washington, to Oklahoma City before the 2008-09 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

Oklahoma City is a dangerous offensive team but its most recent and projected starting lineup lacks size. The Thunder’s tallest player could be Jaylin Williams, who is listed at 6-foot-9.

The Suns received an amazing performance from Booker in the last game and may need another one since Ayton is out. Phoenix’s offensive scoring will be limited to its frontcourt, and backup guard Cam Payne will need to have another strong performance for Phoenix to win this game.

Every contest is crucial for the Suns through the rest of the season. Phoenix is No. 4 in the Western Conference standings, but the Los Angeles Clippers are only one game behind them. The Dallas Mavericks are two games back.

The Suns will have to survive in the interim without Durant, who could be back next week or a little beyond that. He has not done any work outside of stationary shooting, according to coach Monty Williams.


Every game is critical for the Suns, who need to keep winning games in order to maintain their current standing. They have played well against Oklahoma City this season and will need another strong outing to win Sunday, especially in an uncommon early afternoon game.

Phoenix will not be able to get that, however, without Ayton. The Suns have played through injuries for most of the season, and his will be impactful since it cannot take advantage of Oklahoma City’s deficiencies inside the paint. Whether it’s Landale or Biyombo at center, neither can replicate Ayton’s impact.

If this was a season or two ago, Chris Paul might have enough left in the tank to carry Phoenix here. But that is not the case, and Phoenix will lose a somewhat lopsided game.

Thunder 116, Suns 97

When the game is over, join the Suns JAM Session Podcast as we discuss the game live on YouTube.

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