Preview: Phoenix Suns (47-31) at San Antonio Spurs (61-18)


Programming alert: Join the VotS crew for a Google Hangout video chat at 4 p.m. MST. We’ll preview the game and the road ahead.

Time: 5:30 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

Spurs

Spurs

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Suns

From friend to foe in less than 24 hours, such is the life these days in the wacky and wild Western Conference.

Thursday night, the San Antonio Spurs did their part with a 109-100 road victory over the Dallas Mavericks, which temporarily allowed the Phoenix Suns to leapfrog into seventh place by percentage points.

Friday night, those same Spurs will be looking to lock up the top seed out West, showing no concern in the process for the Suns’ aspirations of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2009-10.

Phoenix has one regular season win at the AT&T Center over the last four campaigns, and the building has regularly served as a house of horrors for the purple and orange.

The last time the two teams met in the River City, the Suns squandered a late one-point lead in the waning moments en route to a 99-96 defeat.

While there’s plenty more at stake Friday — Spurs can secure home-court advantage for the entire playoffs and the Suns can lay claim to the No. 7 seed all by themselves — concerns about whether either squad will be at full strength remain at the forefront.

Here’s a look at three questions heading into Phoenix’s first leg of the all-important, Texas two-step:

Will Goran Dragic play? And if he does, how does he get around on the ankle?

AZCentral.com’s Paul Coro was the bearer of bad news late Thursday, announcing that Suns guard Goran Dragic would be questionable for the contest after spraining his left ankle.

On the surface, it’s hard to imagine Dragic missing the biggest game of the year to date. Then again, Saturday’s tussle in Dallas is just as important if not more so than a showdown in San Antonio.

Do the Suns rest their leading scorer in the hopes of keeping him fresh for the following night or does “The Dragon” find a way to make his 75th start of the season?

If a hobbled Dragic does play, staying with either Patty Mills or Cory Joseph will be intriguing to say the least.

Can Phoenix contain the “other guys?”

Tony Parker did not play in Thursday night’s win, as he was back in San Antonio nursing the sprained facet joint on the left side of his back.

Whether Parker or any of the Spurs’ core players — Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili or Tim Duncan — suit up on the second night of a back-to-back is a mystery at this point, but there’s a chance Popovich rests his players after the win on Thursday.

On one hand, San Antonio can take care of their business with a single victory over Phoenix, but on the other hand it can also achieve the same goal with one more Oklahoma City loss.

Since Gregg Popovich is as unpredictable as they come, speculation is essentially an exercise of futility.

Regardless of what lineup they face, how the Suns handle complimentary pieces like Austin Daye, Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli might determine the outcome of the ballgame.

The aforementioned quartet played 77 combined minutes against the Mavericks but could see major minutes if Popovich elects to be cautious.

Belinelli and Mills only combined for 12 total points in Phoenix’s 106-85 victory back on Feb. 21, but neither guard is a slouch by any stretch of the imaginable. Poor defensive closeouts against either, and they’ll torch opposing defenses.

Does the light switch go on immediately?

So much has been made of late about the Suns’ ability to flip the switch depending on the level of competition they’re facing.

Sunday, they were emotionally-invested in a 122-115 victory over the Thunder, whereas in Tuesday’s 94-88 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, grit and late-game execution masked a relatively lackluster effort.

This time of year, winning pretty and winning ugly equal the same result. However to beat the Spurs, who hold an NBA-best 23-3 record since the All-Star break, the Suns will need a complete, 48-minute effort — regardless of the five players Popovich runs out at any given time.

San Antonio is one of only two teams in the league ranked in the top 10 in both team offense (points per game) and defense (points allowed per game). If Phoenix wants to make sure Friday isn’t a playoff preview, it better be mentally engaged from the opening tip.

If not, Saturday will become even more of a must-win than it already is.

Tags: Goran Dragic Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Preview San Antonio Spurs

  • sunsn7

    Injury bug hits now? NOW?

    Go figure, go Suns.

  • http://ultimatesimbaseball.com Brenton

    I would rest Dragic tonight and play him tomorrow(if possible).

    A win tomorrow against Dallas virtually guarantees a playoff birth, while losing both games would make Monday’s game against Memphis a win or go home scenario.

    Dallas is the easiest game of the three, and beating the Mavs and then beating the Kings on Wednesday gets the Suns in.

    You dont want to squander any chance to win a game, but I think I would play Bledsoe about 30 min tonight and let the bench try to get ‘er done against the likes of Diaw and Patty Mills.

    It hurts that Ish Smith is so dreadful playing off the ball, so the Suns cant play the duo PG lienup with Bledsoe and Smith, since neither is a great shooter, and no one respects Smith’s 3pt shot.

  • Foreveris2long

    If Dragic isn’t 90% or better, I am resting him tonight. Tomorrow is the bigger game. It is ok to lose tonight and win tomorrow. Big picture Suns, big picture.

  • GoSuns

    I think it’s ok that we can’t play ish and Bledsoe together it just means that we need productive and major minutes from Green, Tucker can spell Green and Marcus play the 3 as needed

  • Voqar

    Should be interesting to see who plays for SA. So many factors.

    With Parker most certainly out and it being likely that some of their other starters are out or coming off back to back, the Suns should be ready to pounce even if Dragic is out.

    Playing 5 on 8 in SA is always a daunting task but it can be done if you play at a very high level.

  • JK

    Tonight’s game is a must-win, so I say unleash the Dragon! He has played amazing in the past when he was “injured.” Perhaps this information was leaked on purpose to get Pop to sit his star players when in reality Dragic isn’t injured at all.

    Winning this game tonight would really give us the confidence we need heading into the big game versus Dallas. If the Suns win this game and the next one, I say they are a lock in the playoffs regardless of what happens versus Memphis.

    LET’S GO SUNS!!!

  • EBJM

    I agree with JK, this is a must win game. Grizzlies are only one loss back and if the Suns lose the Grizzlies jump up to the 7th spot and Dallas and Phoenix become tied for 8th making tomorrows game another must win as the Mavericks are tied 1-1 on the seasons series.

    Suns lose tomorrow also then forget it because the Grizzlies are 3-0 against Phoenix this season.

    The Suns penchant for allowing mediocre players to have big games against them will come back to haunt them in these final games.

    Last night Timofrey Mozgov went for 23/29/3 against Andrew Bogut that dropped the Warriors to within a loss of the race at the bottom.

    I can already see Nowitzki and Dalembert feasting on Frye and Plumlee. If not them than Brandon Wright is the best 18 minute per game player in the league who could get the best of Markieff.

    Patty Mills and Kwahi Leonard had career nights against the Mavericks.

    Dragic can rest over the summer which will come sooner if he doesn’t play.

  • EBJM

    Suns have the toughest schedule remaining. Grizzlies face the Suns, Mavericks and then Denver, Philly, & Lakers. The only tough game is the Mavericks who are 3-0 against the Grizzlies but the Grizzlies looked awesome in their win over the Heat.

    Dallas gets the Lakers, Jazz, and Clippers besides Phoenix and Memphis.

    Suns don’t have the option to give away any games.

  • john

    @EBJM

    I’m not sure what schedules you’re looking at.

    Dallas is 48-32. They have two games remaining. vs PHX and @ MEM.

    Memphis is 46-32. They have four games remaining. vs PHI, @ LAL, @ PHX, and vs DAL.

    Both Dallas and Memphis have two difficult games remaining. If Memphis loses two more, the Suns are in at 2-2. If Dallas loses their final two games, the Suns are in at 2-2. If Dallas splits and Memphis goes 3-1, the Suns have to go 3-1 or better. I could keep going on, but the surest way to get in is this:

    Match or beat Memphis. The three-way tie will not go the Suns’ way unless Memphis loses to BOTH DAL and PHX and PHX beats both DAL and MEM. The Suns don’t want it to come down to a 3-way tie. The best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is match or beat Memphis’ record from here on out.

  • john

    btw, 3-1 locks the Suns in no matter which scenario you choose. The 2-2 odds most likely fall into the 50% range as it depends greatly on which two games are losses and whether or not Memphis goes 3-1 vs 4-0. In a 2-2 scenario, the Suns might actually prefer Memphis to go 4-0 rather than 3-1, as long as Dallas is one of the 2 wins for the Suns.

    Can anyone believe there’s a chance the 2013-14 Suns could get to 50 wins?

  • EBJM

    Apparently last weeks. Sorry I wasn’t looking just going off a poor memory after listening to Chuck and Shaq last night.

  • Foreveris2long

    John I could not agree more. If the Suns lose tonight and win the remaining 3 games against Dallas, Memphis and Sac Town, they will go to the playoffs no matter what. That is why tonight is not a must win situation.

  • Serek

    Agreed. Must win are games against Dallas and Memphis as they count double. Then any of other two will do. It will help to win tonight, but if sitting this one out can help Goran, so be it.

    In the meantime, let Archie start in this one so as not to break ‘this killer bench unit’. Especially if Pop sits the old guys.

  • DZ

    My bet is that they leave it up to Goran as to whether to play tonight or not. I have no idea what Pop will do tonight though. He could “rest” a few players because of the back-to-back games but SA also has two days off after this game before they play Houston. And their last game is against the Lakers in SA with a day of rest between that game and the Houston game. I suppose what Pop does tonight depends on just how determined he is to try and make sure the Spurs have home court advantage throughout the playoffs as soon as possible.

    And something else no one has mentioned here yet (at least not that I seen), the Suns are now only one game back from GS for the 6th seed after their loss to Denver AT GS last night. They have 4 games left @ LAL tonight, @ Portland on the 13th, then Minnesota at home on the 14th and a final game @ Denver on the 16th. If they hadn’t lost to Denver last night I wouldn’t even be talking about it but that puts the last THREE playoff seeds in play instead of just the last two. Unfortunately, neither Phoenix, Dallas nor Memphis will have any control in any of the remaining GS games but how well they play in their final four games could also be important and complicate things even further.

  • DZ

    Ok, just noticed that EBJM DID mention the GS loss last night so I was wrong saying that no one had mentioned before.

  • Raffi AKA Anonymous

    Hopefully Duncan doesn’t play tonight as well. He hyper extended it in yesterdays game.

  • Raffi AKA Anonymous

    And by it, I mean his knee. lol.

  • CarlyJoni

    This next triumvirate of games are the most important of the season for the Suns! Pity Goran is questionable tonight, but hopefully Bledsoe, Green and the Morri will fill the gaps. Looking for Eric to take control early. Hopefully Pops will rest Duncan. That early knee crash that sent him to the locker room is a warning for Pop to rest him, especially on this b to b.
    Suns control their playoff destiny. Go Suns of Anarchy and prove the pundits wrong!

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Give Goran a break…..Bled, Gerald, Ish & Archie can pick up the slack.

  • john

    They need three wins. Doesn’t matter who they come against. 3 or more wins is the only way to guarantee a playoff berth. They can get in with less wins if they get help, but three wins gets them in without any help.

    I’d say try to beat the spurs because it’ll be tough to beat Dallas tomorrow on a back to back. A loss tonight means they can’t lose another. Win tonight and they maintain their cushion.

  • Roger

    Frye will win us a game tonite !!

  • sunsn7

    Sitting Dragic makes perfect sense. Be nice if Goodwin and Len can contribute to a big win.

    Looking good so far but not sleeping on the shorthanded, champion minded Spurs

  • Dave:f32

    Suns shooting 57 percent, Spurs shooting 37 percent – Spurs only down by 9 points. Has to worry the Suns. Stay tuned!

  • sunsn7

    Bledsoe looking like he’s beginning to feel good out there…Len in the game…

    Spurs are gonna try to rip the Suns heart out in the 2nd half…

  • Dave:f32

    Suns FG% 55.1 – 76 pts
    Spurs FG% 46.7 – 72 pts

  • Dave:f32

    78, 76

  • Dave:f32

    Suns FG% 50.9 – 78 pts
    Spurs FG% 47.0 – 77 pts

  • Dave:f32

    Spurs FG% 48.6 – 86 pts
    Suns FG% 47.9 – 81 pts

    Spurs scored 37 pts in Q3. They scored 24 in Q1 and 25 in Q2. All without their best player, Tim Duncan.

  • Dave:f32

    Channing Frye missed 16 3s before that latest make… Scrub

  • sunsn7

    Tell me you weren’t cheering when it dropped though?

    What a game, definite playoff feel to it. Still in it…

  • Dave:f32

    20 turnovers for the Suns.

  • Dave:f32

    Gametime.(

  • sunsn7

    Morris boys not ready for prime time. What a shame.

    Frye? Ugh-LEEE! shot. Game ovah!

  • Smovich

    Is there one smart player on the Suns tonight?

  • sunsn7

    Suns played hard but after losing, playoffs in peril with a big game looming in less than 24hrs.

    Even Dragic cant help with the Suns front line. Another nailbiter tomorrow but cant say I feel great about it.

  • Dave:f32

    @Smovich, yeah. Dragic. Because he got some rest for an absolute loss, so he could play tomorrow’s tough game on the 2nd of a B2B road game.

    Suns have their work cut out for them.

    Making the playoffs isnt going to be as easy as some of you maybe think it will be.

    Know thy team.

  • Dave:f32

    I think their season is over with that loss. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is always the draft. Go Suns!

  • Dan S

    More good ole Suns luck…Dragon get injured with 4 most important games left!!
    Just like the great fortune we got with JJ injury in 05, STAT microfracture, Nash bloody nose in Game 1, Horry hip check and Duncan’s three pointer………..

  • Dan S

    And the great luck of having Parker make his return TONIGHT of all games, lol Shoulda been Parker, Duncan, Ginobili sitting with Goran still healthy for us but no

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