The Phoenix Suns (20-39) have won two straight games in consecutive days both in overtime, which is really hard to do. What makes it even more impressive is that the second one was against the NBA’s best team, the San Antonio Spurs.
Phoenix may have an emotional hangover from their two overtime wins that leaves their effort and intensity significantly lacking Friday as they host the Atlanta Hawks (33-23). Al Horford, (an All-Star in 2010 and 2011) and his team are on a four-game winning streak and have won six of their last seven, with the only loss coming last Wednesday to the Miami Heat.
The line for this game is -4 for Phoenix, according to ESPN, meaning Atlanta is favored by that many points. That makes sense because of the records of the teams and the fact that the Suns luck has to run out sometime. The heroic overtime wins won’t last forever.
Phoenix is clean on the injury report, except for Channing Frye, who has been out all year with an enlarged heart. For the Hawks, only center Zaza Pachulia is on the report. He played Wednesday, but he had missed the previous game with an Achilles injury and it seems to be bothering him since he only played 12 minutes, scoring 2 points, along with a rebound and a couple assists.
Suns keys to the game:
- Phoenix’s bigs need to control Atlanta’s best players: the aforementioned Horford as well as Josh Smith, who the Suns reportedly were about to get/were never getting before the trade deadline. Horford scored a career-high 34 points Wednesday, to go along with his 15 rebounds and five blocks. Smith didn’t disappoint, adding 24 points, 14 boards, and seven assists.
- Fundamentals. Cut down on turnovers and don’t let the Hawks get very many offensive rebounds that usually turn into putbacks.
Hawks keys to the game:
- Atlanta needs a contribution from their reserves ever since Lou Williams went down for the season due to injury because their reserves are not good, seeing as they are 22nd in the league in bench scoring, according to HoopStats.com .
- The Hawks need to stop Goran Dragic from penetrating the lane. Recently, Dragic has been able to pass through opponent’s legs with accuracy and velocity spoon-feeding Gortat and other teammates. He even did it to Tim Duncan twice in the same game.
Match-up to watch:
Gortat has picked up his play recently and Horford is coming off a career-high in points. This match-up will be interesting to see who wins, and could be a determining factor in the outcome of the game.
Whoever wins the bench scoring battle should win the war. The Hawks starters are better than Phoenix’s, but the Suns bench should be better than the Hawks, because they don’t have Lou Williams.