Nov. 12, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) dribbles the ball up the court against the Phoenix Suns during the first half at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Phoenix Suns (22-41) Vs. Denver Nuggets (42-22)

The Phoenix Suns face one of the NBA’s hottest teams at home Monday night against the Denver Nuggets.

Denver looks to add to their eight consecutive victories vs. a Suns squad that beat them 110-100 on Nov. 12, which at the time snapped the Nuggets’ six-game win streak. The Nuggets will hope to undo their previous meeting having won their past three road games.

The Suns, on the other hand, will seek to continue their recent success at home after defeating the Houston Rockets 107-105 on March 9. Phoenix has won three of their last four games at US Airways Center.

Suns Keys to the Game:

  • Be the “Super Morris Bros.” That’s not to say Markieff and Marcus Morris need to become Mario and Luigi and conquer a giant reptile named Bowser. However, the Morris twins must provide an imposing, physical presence in this matchup with Marcin Gortat (foot) out and Jermaine O’Neal (personal) listed as day-to-day.
  • Production from the center position. With O’Neal’s status uncertain, Hamed Haddadi must bring a strong low-post performance similar to the game vs. the Rockets. Haddadi doesn’t have to be a contemporary scorer by any stretch for the Suns to be successful. Remember, Haddadi had 11 rebounds and three blocks in Phoenix’s triumph over Houston.  

Nuggets Keys to the Game:

  • Keep Goran Dragic in check. While it’s unlikely he will duplicate his 80 percent shooting performance from 3-pointer, Dragic did lead the Suns to victory over the Nuggets with his 21 points. Phoenix will go as far a Dragic can take them. Because Denver ranks 26th in the NBA in points allowed, the team must make a conscious effort to keep Dragic from getting into the same rhythm that doomed them earlier this season.
  • Stay the course. In their 111-88 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 9, the Nuggets kept their foot on the throttle. Denver ranks second in the league in assists and rebounds per game and third in points per game. The Nuggets must simply maintain their identity to be victorious.

Matchup to Watch:

Goran Dragic vs. Ty Lawson. Both players have led their respective teams in points and assists per game. Dragic has averaged 14 points and seven assists this year, while Lawson has similarly averaged 17 points and seven assists.

X-Factor:

Ty Lawson. During the Nuggets current winning streak, Lawson has shot 54 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and has averaged 7.7 assists. Considering the Suns’ depleted center position, Lawson has a prime opportunity to augment those numbers and lead his team to their ninth-straight win.

“We’ve all been playing better in the second half of the season and our record is showing that,” Lawson said. “The first half of the season, there were worries in management, coaching staff if we were going to make the playoffs, but we’ve gotten into shape and we’ve been playing well.”

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