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Game Preview: Suns back in Phoenix to host Bucks in rematch of 2021 NBA Finals

The Suns are back in Phoenix after a long road trip.

Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Who: Phoenix Suns (29-21) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (33-17)

When: 8:00 pm AZ Time

Where: Footprint Center — Phoenix, Arizona

Watch: 3TV and Arizona’s Family Sports, TNT


The Phoenix Suns are fresh off a needed road win in Washington in their 50th game of the season to improve to 29-21.

Bradley Beal’s return to D.C. was successful despite playing through a nasal fracture, pouring in 43 points on 16-21 shooting in just 31 minutes of action.

The Suns finished their grueling seven-game road trip with a record of 4-3.

This is the first matchup between the Bucks and Suns this season. Milwaukee went 2-0 against Phoenix last year and have won the past three regular-season meetings.

Milwaukee is still fresh off a major shakeup in the coaching department, as they fired first-year head coach Adrian Griffin after a 31-14 start.

Since Doc Rivers took the helm, the team struggled to a tune of a 1-3 record including losses to the Jazz, Blazers and Nuggets.

Milwaukee Bucks v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Probable Starters

Phoenix Suns:

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

Milwaukee Bucks:

  • Brook Lopez*
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Khris Middleton
  • Malik Beasley
  • Damian Lillard*

Injury Report

Phoenix:

Bradley Beal –- AVAILABLE (Nasal Fracture)

Damion Lee — OUT (Right Meniscus Surgery)

Milwaukee:

Giannis Antetokounmpo — PROBABLE (Knee)

Damian Lillard — QUESTIONABLE (Ankle)

Brook Lopez — QUESTIONABLE (Personal)

Andre Jackson Jr. — PROBABLE (Wrist)

Jersey Matchup

Tonight’s jersey matchup:

What to Watch For

  • Size Battle

The Bucks are one of the biggest teams in the association, with bigs Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis joining Giannis in the frontline as they look to play bully ball inside.

Portis specifically seems to have the Suns’ number over the years, so slowing him down will be in their gameplan.

Brook Lopez is questionable so if he’s unable to go we could see small-ball come into play on each side, so that is worth monitoring.

Bol Bol’s return couldn’t come at a better time, as they’ll need him, Nurkic, Eubanks and Durant to match some of the size Milwaukee has both inside and out.

  • Defense Optional...

The Bucks just allowed 123 points to a mediocre Utah Jazz team in their loss on Sunday. While the Suns aren’t exactly a defensive juggernaut themselves, they’ll need to attack the Bucks’ weaknesses on that end.

Their lack of quick point of attack defenders on the perimeter is a recipe for disaster against a Suns team that has so many diverse scorers.

Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal will need to work on attacking the Bucks’ weak link defensively whether it’s Lillard or Beasley in the backcourt or by hunting their slower bigs through screens to get them on an island.

Phoenix will need to get stops (obviously), but the best way to beat this Bucks team (so far this season) is to simply beat them in their own game and outscore them. They are one of the few teams that has that firepower to do so.

Phoenix Suns v Washington Wizards Photo by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images
  • Containing Giannis

This one is easier said than done, but finding a way to contain Giannis is the major key to victory tonight for the Suns. Kevin Durant will likely matchup with him, but it’ll take team defense to disrupt and bother him the bulldozing linebacker forward.

This could be a game where we see Nurkic enter foul trouble quickly and the bench unit will need to be ready to step up. Bol Bol, Keita Bates-Diop, and Drew Eubanks are the bench pieces with size that come to mind immediately.

Miami Heat v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Prediction

The Suns show up and protect their home court in a dog fight against a tough Bucks team. This one could go down to the final few possessions. Still awaiting that injury report, but either way it will be a battle.

Phoenix 122 - Milwaukee 118

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