Suns Face LaMarcus Aldridge’s Spurs For The First Time

Oct 16, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren (12) dribbles the ball up court ahead of guard Brandon Knight (3) and forward Mirza Teletovic (35) in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Suns forward T.J. Warren (12) dribbles the ball up court ahead of guard Brandon Knight (3) and forward Mirza Teletovic (35) in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix Suns (2-2) @ San Antonio Spurs (1-3)
When: Tue Oct. 20, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m.
Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX


Hell hath no fury like a prospective free agency destination scorned. Or something like that.

In their fourth preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs, the Phoenix Suns are not only facing a familiar Western Conference rival, but a star free agent who ultimately spurned their advances this past summer. The addition of Tyson Chandler was almost enough to sway LaMarcus Aldridge, but in the end, he opted to strengthen a title contender that’s been a thorn in Phoenix’s side for years.

It may just be the preseason, but suffice it to say that the Suns would enjoy to make a statement against a Spurs team that only recently picked up its first win of the preseason. With the regular season looming, this game represents a more serious contest that will allow Phoenix’s starters to play together again for the first time since their preseason opener.

Three Things To Watch:

1. Closer To The Real Thing — Over the first four games, head coach Jeff Hornacek has experimented with a lot of different looks. He’s given one start to each piece of the Sonny WeemsDevin BookerArchie Goodwin trio that will be fighting for minutes this season.

He’s featured Jon Leuer more than most anyone was expecting and he’s made due with makeshift lineups with Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, Alex Len and Ronnie Price missing a game or two here and there.

Against the Spurs, Price will be the only player sitting out, which means the game will be treated as a tune-up for the regular season.

That’s good news for the Suns, who have only had Bledsoe for 16 minutes of the preseason, missing the next three games due to rest and then illness. With Phoenix hinging its success in 2015-16 on how Bledsoe and Brandon Knight mesh together in the backcourt, getting them some extra run time in these last two preseason games would be beneficial.

According to the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro, Hornacek isn’t too concerned about how these two will fit together, but it’d sure be nice to see some budding chemistry given how few minutes they’ve logged together in actual NBA games so far.

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2. Statement Game? — It may not be a regular season game, but as we’ve seen many times so far this preseason, old habits die hard. The Suns’ comeback against the Houston Rockets felt like a regular season game, we’ve seen Julius Randle declare that Draymond Green can’t guard him and NBA Twitter has been littered with complaints about League Pass’ lack of coverage.

Believe it or not, people care about the NBA preseason now.

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Bearing that in mind, this first confrontation between LaMarcus Aldridge and the team that finished second in his free agency bonanza is something to keep an eye on. Knowing Gregg Popovich, it’s entirely possible he rests a few (or all) of his starters. Aldridge has already missed one preseason game due to back spasms, after all.

But if he is available, look for Markieff Morris and Tyson Chandler to set the tone. Keef knows Aldridge is the reason his twin brother was traded away and Chandler was the piece that was supposed to lure L.A. to Phoenix. I doubt either one of them has forgotten those unintended slights, and the young Suns have something to prove as they try to tighten up their play coming off that beatdown in Denver.

3. Tightening The Rotation — If this game really is a dress rehearsal, that means Hornacek will more than likely stick with rotations similar to what can be expected for the regular season. He might not ride the starters as hard, and the possibility of a preseason blowout always threatens to skew the minute totals, but this game in Texas might give us a clue as to where the fringe rotation players stand.

Is Archie Goodwin already the odd man out? Is there an opening for Jon Leuer if Mirza Teletovic‘s shooting struggles continue? Is Sonny Weems still expected to be the first guard off the bench, or has Devin Booker already proven he’s ready for those minutes? Is P.J. Tucker still the starter, or has T.J. Warren surpassed him?

Preseason games may be meaningless in the win-loss column, but getting a look at the possible rotations for the regular season isn’t useless by any means.

Fun Fact:

Perhaps this isn’t a “fun” fact, but it’s relevant nonetheless. Through four preseason contests, the Suns are giving up 45.5 points per game in the paint — the second highest mark among NBA teams entering last night’s slate of games. Against the tandem of Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge, that trend can’t continue.

Speaking of Duncan and Aldridge, keep your eyes peeled for a potential Twin Towers lineup. Hornacek is unlikely to pair Chandler and Len together in the frontcourt very often, but against an interior duo like that, it’s not impossible either.

Next: 5 Goals For Eric Bledsoe

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