Time: 7 p.m. MST
TV: Not on televisionThe Oklahoma City Thunder don’t expect to play Kevin Durant on Tuesday as they visit the Phoenix Suns, according to beat writer Darnell Mayberry, but that only creates for more intrigue in an NBA preseason battle. After all, it seems highly unlikely the Suns would be with Goran Dragic, who sprained his ankle Thursday.
What can we take from the Suns’ second-to-last preseason game of the year?
Will the Suns hint to who’s firmly in the lineup?
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek loses a night to establish more continuity between his backcourt, but if there was one player we know what to expect from, it’s Dragic. Eric Bledsoe will likely be the starter at point guard — hey, maybe we can gain more confidence about any extension talk — and perhaps Phoenix will tip its hand at who sits firmly in the rotation, be it Shannon Brown, Gerald Green, Marcus Morris, Archie Goodwin or Kendall Marshall.
From a traditional standpoint, Brown seems to make sense in a high-octane, up-tempo system. But Hornacek could also slide P.J. Tucker to the shooting guard spot and start a small forward like Green or Morris, both of whom would provide equal, if not better, shooting than Brown.
Additionally, Marshall and Goodwin will likely each find themselves with more playing time than normal with Dragic out. For them, Tuesday is a chance to impress the coaching staff.
How testy will it be in the paint?
Quick, name three Thunder players who will test the Suns’ toughness. Mayberry reports that Kendrick Perkins is a go for the meeting at U.S. Airways Center, and his reputation speaks for itself. Hasheem Thabeet will be suspended for a regular-season opener for head-butting New Orleans’ Greg Stiemsma, and rookie big man Steven Adams — one of the most entertaining of the Suns’ predraft workout invitees – is having a pretty great preseason. If you’re a Suns fan upset about the Alex Len draft pick and unwilling to wait for him to develop, keep an eye on Adams’ production this year when validating your complaints.
Anyway, that’s not including the Thunder’s best big man, Serge Ibaka, who will surely test Markieff Morris inconsistent motor that has been not so bad the last few games.
Does Diante Garrett haunt his old Suns team?
Talk about returns … OK, maybe not. Still, the shifty point guard has found himself in a seemingly solid situation since leaving Phoenix. After all, if a class organization like Oklahoma City picks him up, that can only mean people not only noticed him but were impressed. Garrett has gotten decent enough run this preseason and could end up squaring off against old practice mate, Kendall Marshall.