Preview: Phoenix Suns (12-13) at Oklahoma City Thunder (19-8)

Phoenix Suns 113, Oklahoma City Thunder 110

Suns

Thunder

If the Suns are going to have to play shorthanded a couple games as they wait for their trade reinforcements to join the team, it may as well be in games they are likely to drop anyway.

With Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus not expected to join the team before Thursday’s game against Miami, Alvin Gentry will have no issues with whittling down a long rotation tonight as he will have only eight usual rotation players available to him.

That’s including Steve Nash, who is hopeful he will be able to suit up tonight after suffering a scary stinger injury Friday in Dallas, according to The Arizona Republic. The Suns will need him to be at his best to even have a prayer, and so if he can’t go this one could get ugly fast.

My idea that Josh Childress should rest his fractured finger until he’s fully healthy will have to take a backseat tonight and tomorrow as he will join Grant Hill and Jared Dudley as the only wings on this roster before Carter and Pietrus join the team. Childress’ length could come in handy anyway as the Suns search for a way to slow down the NBA’s leading scorer Kevin Durant (27.4 ppg).

It will be interesting to see Gentry maneuver a traditional eight-man rotation. He basically needs to play all of his regular guys instead of divvying minutes up based on matchups and who is playing well at that given time.

In a moderately less important move than what went down yesterday the Suns announced that Gani Lawal will re-join the team for this game. Lawal averaged 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game in 10 contests with the D-League’s Iowa Energy. He will likely be the 12th or 13th man going forward, so if he’s ever going to get a look it would probably be in one of these next two games before the new acquisitions arrive.

At this point, the Suns’ season restarts on Thursday. I would be surprised if the Suns weren’t 12-16 after that toughie against the Heat with the ridiculous schedule they are encountering this week.

Although that’s an unenviable position, sure, from that point forward the Suns will be playing with a full deck of cards in that they will have sufficient size and should start to move up the team rebounding ranks just a bit. With Pietrus in the fold as well as Gortat, they should not have to help on defense as much anymore and should steadily increase their defensive efficiency ranking as well.

The schedule will also be a bit more forgiving as the Suns will have their brutal November and this murderers’ row stretch behind them.

The Suns can certainly look forward to a new beginning when they return home from this trip, but for now the most this undermanned squad can hope for the next two games is to play with the competitive spirit that can help them save their season once the cavalry arrives.

And 1

I went on Thunderground Radio to preview the game and chat about the Suns’ big trade. Listen to it here.

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