The Phoenix Suns completed their four-game road trip on Saturday capping off their road trip with a convincing win over the Chicago Bulls, but nonetheless it was only their 2nd win in their last 13 games. Things won’t get easier for the Suns tonight as they are set to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder who are currently the team with the best record in the entire NBA.
“Obviously it was a much needed win for us. It is especially good to get it against a quality team,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “For the first time in a very long time we played and executed well for four quarters.”
Coming into tonight’s game the Thunder have won three straight games and have won eight of their last 10 games overall. The Thunder are the favorite in tonight’s game by a 5.0 margin according to ESPN.com. The Thunder has forward Serge Ibaka and shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha on the injured list and both guys did not play in the Thunder’s last game against the Blazers.
The Suns will once again be without Jared Dudley who suffered a sprained wrist in the lost to the Brooklyn Nets last week. Dudley also didn’t play due to the injury in the Suns win against the Bulls on Saturday, and he is expected to sit again today according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
Keys to the game: Suns
– Bench play. One of the biggest factors in the Suns win over Chicago on Saturday was the fact that the bench stepped up. The Suns benched scored 46 points in the win against the Bulls, but most notably it was Michael Beasley who was the player that propelled the Suns in that game. Michael Beasley scored 20 points to lead all reserve players; that’s the first time Beasley broke the 20 point mark since December 8th.
– Perimeter defense. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a dangerous offense team however they won’t have a problem taking jumpers all game and the Suns need to beware of that aspect of the Thunder offense. The Thunder has tremendously talented shooters on their roster and they can light you up at any point in time.
– Turnovers. Aside from the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder are probably the worst team to turn the ball over against. The Thunder excel in transitional basketball which isn’t surprising, after all they do have Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on their roster.
Keys to the game: Thunder
– Get ready to play! The Thunder lost a game recently against the Washington Wizards when Bradley Beal hit a game winner on them at the buzzer. The Thunder can’t risk having it be a close game down the stretch and give the Suns the opportunity to potential steal a victory.
– Injuries. Both teams are a bit banged up right now but in this particular situation the Thunder will be able to adapt easier than the Suns simply due to the fact that the Thunder has a lot more talent on their team than the Suns do. The Suns will be without Jared Dudley(been confirmed) while the Thunder could be without Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha.
Match-up of the night!
– Goran Dragic vs. Russell Westbrook. Dragic has struggled a bit recently but then again so has Westbrook. In Westbrook’s last five games he’s shooting only 38% from the field and 30% from downtown.