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Game Preview: Kevin Durant returns to Brooklyn for the first time since being traded

Suns look to pick up second straight win after dominating Miami on Monday

Brooklyn Nets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Who: Phoenix Suns (27-20) vs. Brooklyn Nets (19-27)

When: 6:30 p.m. AZ Time

Watch: ABC, Arizona’s Family 3TV

Listen: 98.7 FM


Three hundred and fifty-six days after an all-time late-night Woj Bomb announcing Kevin Durant’s trade to the Phoenix Suns, the Slim Reaper will return to the Barclays Center.

Almost a year later, the Suns' team that Durant knew on February 9, 2023, is drastically different. The Point God, Chris Paul, is in Golden State, Deandre Ayton is a Trailblazer, and Monty Williams is coaching the Pistons. Frank Vogel is now the head coach of the Suns, and Bradley Beal helps run the backcourt.

In his 48 games as a member of the Suns, Durant has helped the Suns go 30-18, averaging 27.9 points per game on 53.6 percent shooting from the field and 46.7 percent from three. During last year’s playoffs, Durant put up 29 points a contest in 11 contests, including a 36-point masterpiece in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

The Suns remain a title contender as they did a year ago and hope to bring home the franchise’s first title in their history. Phoenix comes in winners of eight of their last ten, playing some of their best basketball of the season.

On Monday, the Valley seamlessly took advantage of the Miami Heat, winning going away 118-105. Now more than halfway through their seven-game road trip, Phoenix will look to get a victory on Kevin Durant’s former stomping grounds.

Probable Starters

PHOENIX:

  • Bradley Beal
  • Devin Booker
  • Grayson Allen
  • Kevin Durant
  • Jusuf Nurkić

BROOKLYN:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie
  • Cam Thomas
  • Mikal Bridges
  • Cameron Johnson
  • Nic Claxton

Uniform Matchup

Injury Report

Suns:

Grayson Allen – QUESTIONABLE (Right Ankle Sprain)

Bradley Beal – AVAILABLE (Nasal Fracture)

Bol Bol – QUESTIONABLE (Right Foot Sprain)

Damion Lee – OUT (Right Meniscus Surgery)

Nets:

Noah Clowney – OUT (G League Assignment)

Dorian Finney-Smith – OUT (Left Ankle Sprain)

Keon Johnson – OUT (Two-Way)

Day’Ron Sharpe – OUT (Left Knee Hyperextension)

Ben Simmons – PROBABLE (Left Knee Contusion)

Dariq Whitehead – OUT (Left Shin Stress Reaction)

Jalen Wilson – OUT (Two-Way)

What to Watch For

The reception that Kevin Durant gets from the Brooklyn crowd. Per Duane Rankin, the Slim Reaper isn’t sure what he expects in his return to the Barclays Center. Whatever happens will likely be entertaining. Durant expressed on X that he does not want a tribute video for his time there.

It is always interesting to see how fans react to a star player returning to play their former team for the first time on the road. Even though he requested a trade eight months before being finally traded, Durant’s departure and tenure with the Nets was the least dramatic of his, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.

On the basketball side, the Slim Reaper is averaging just 16.8 points per game in his last four contests, a measly number for someone with his scoring prowess. Durant should take advantage of Dorian Finney-Smith being out of the lineup for Brooklyn and get back on track offensively. Before this four-game stint, Durant had 83 points in two games; he has just 67 in double the amount of contests.

Key to a Suns Win

When it comes to the Phoenix Suns and wins, fourth-quarter play is the name of the game. The Valley has been outscored 90-48 in their last three fourth-quarters, costing them two victories.

The Suns led going into the final quarter the last time they played Brooklyn and blew the game in the fourth. The urgency needs to be present throughout the final 12 minutes of the game for the squad, independent of how much they are up or down.

Prediction

It’s that time of year when title teams start to take every game very seriously. The Suns are showing that they value the regular season and respect it. While there were two hiccups recently against Indiana and Orlando, Phoenix is on an upward trajectory. Despite scoring 147 points on Monday, Brooklyn has lost nine of 13 this month. I like Phoenix to win a close one.

Suns 118, Nets 112

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