What: Phoenix Suns (38-34) vs. Sacramento Kings (43-29)
When: 8 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
Watch: Bally Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
This season’s series comes in at 2-1, in favor of the Suns.
Both teams are top-4 in the Western Conference at the moment - with Sacramento third and Phoenix, five games behind them, in fourth - hosting a first-round playoff series.
Sacramento is 4-3 over their last two weeks, with the 9th-best offense (119.6) and 24th-ranked defense (119.8).
Since their last match-up with the Suns, they’d gone on a rather interesting five games in seven nights stretch, including a road trip where they crossed multiple time zones, and went 3-1 against the likes of Chicago, Brooklyn, and Washington.
Needless to say, their last game at home against the Celtics - a 132-109 loss - saw some trickle-down effect from all of the traveling and volume of games in succession.
They come into this one against the Suns on two days of rest.
The Suns meanwhile are now in a tie with the Clippers for 4th place in the West. They need a win tonight to reclaim sole possession of that coveted 4th seed.
· Chris Paul
· Devin Booker
· Josh Okogie
· Torrey Craig
· Bismack Biyombo
· De’Aaron Fox
· Kessler Edwards
· Keegan Murray
· Harrison Barnes
· Domantas Sabonis
- Kevin Durant (ankle) is OUT
- Deandre Ayton (hip) is OUT
- Kevin Huerter (right knee) is QUESTIONABLE
What to Watch For
· Suns switching vs Sacramento’s “Warriors-lite/Warriors-adjacent” movement and motion offense
· Physicality: Phoenix sans Ayton will be relying on Biyombo and Landale to bring that element to the game - it will be much-needed
· Kings half-court pace on offense
· Suns controlling pace
· Bench vs Bench in production
· Okogie defending Fox (27.5 PPG - 55.1/39.5 shooting post All-Star Game); Edwards defending Booker
Keys to a Suns Win
Making Sabonis work defensively will be extremely important. The Suns - sans Ayton - don’t have a big man that they’re comfortable throwing it to in the post that will keep Sabonis preoccupied directly, so it will be imperative for them to keep him involved in pick-and-roll actions.
I spoke to this following their second match-up, and how the Suns did just that down the stretch, via their “2-up motion” set, which was unveiled in this game I believe.
Sound On— Stephen PridGeon ☯️ (@StayTrueSDot3) February 15, 2023
The Suns accepted the Kings defensive coverage & picked it apart - in multiple ways - to the tune of a 114.9 half-court ortg (their 4th best mark of the season) last night
One way they did so was via multiple PnR's, while also strategically using Okogie to initiate: pic.twitter.com/8rQYoW0MUn
Also for the Suns, the ancillary players will need to bring their production to the fold in a loud manner. Defense is one thing, but to beat this Kings team - especially at home where they average 123.8 points and are 21-15 in front of one of the most raucous atmospheres - you have to score.
Quarters below 25 points scored simply won’t cut it.
Playoff implications-galore bestowed upon this match-up will provide a playoff-adjacent atmosphere that is fitting for a late March bout.
The Phoenix Suns - on a bit of a skid of late - will muster up many of the requisite ancillary efforts needed and snag a much-needed win on the front end of a back-to-back.
They’ll sustain just enough defensive activity but will be propelled by an offensive pace and process that is aided by the general pace that Kings games typically have.