The Phoenix Suns are fresh off a tough loss to the Lakers on Friday night. They will look to respond against a young, talented Thunder squad.
What: Phoenix Suns (4-5) at Oklahoma City Thunder (5-4)
When: Sunday, Nov. 12 — at 6:00 p.m. AZ time
Where: Footprint Center — Phoenix, AZ
Watch: Arizona’s Family 3TV
Listen: 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2
The Phoenix Suns are an uninspiring 1-3 at home this season, with all three losses being completely avoidable.
Between the Spurs back-to-back, and then the loss to the Lakers on Friday night, it’s been a frustrating series of events at the Footprint Center.
The fourth quarter has been quite the struggle for Phoenix, as they seem to come to a screeching halt offensively late in games. The statistics back it up too. They rank among the worst in the league in just about every category in the 4th quarter this season.
Devin Booker solves A LOT of these problems, but it’s still certainly a worry that we will continue to monitor. Hopefully this trend dies quickly, or they are going to continue to lose winnable games.
The Thunder are coming off a loss of their own, getting shut down by the Kings on Friday night. OKC was held below 100 points for the second time this season and did not have a single quarter exceeding 30 points.
Devin Booker remains out and Eric Gordon finds himself as a new addition to the injury report for Phoenix.
Devin Booker (calf) DOUBTFUL
Eric Gordon (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
Damion Lee (knee) OUT
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Kenrich Williams (back) OUT
- Bradley Beal
- Grayson Allen
- Keita Bates-Diop
- Kevin Durant
- Jusuf Nurkic
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Jalen Williams
- Josh Giddey
- Luguentz Dort
- Chet Holmgren
WHAT TO WATCH
The role players.
Who will step up tonight? Durant and Beal can only do so much, and this Thunder team comes at you in waves.
Whether it’s Grayson Allen getting hot from deep again or Drew Eubanks willing the second unit by dominating the paint, someone needs to step up. Could this be the Yuta game? If Eric Gordon is unable to go (shoulder soreness) that opens the door for more Jordan Goodwin minutes as well.
The new favorite for the fifth starter, KBD, has shown promising flashes and has been a reliable option for the Suns early on. In 128 minutes played, he has 7 assists and 0 turnovers. He also has more stocks (10) than personal fouls (6).
Real Deal Beal
Bradley Beal looked more like himself on Friday against the Lakers, scoring 20 first-half points. As long as Devin Booker remains sidelined, Durant will need someone to shoulder the offensive burden, especially when he’s sitting on the bench.
Through his first two games, Beal is averaging 18.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.0 steals on a 55 TS% in 27.5 minutes per game.
Frank Vogel has a tough call to make in terms of staggering the two because you want one of them on the court at all times. That being said, it makes their life difficult to play without the other one, as defenses will send a small army at them and dare the Phoenix role players to shoot.
Once Phoenix has all three at their disposal, the offense will start to truly click. Until then, there will continue to be some ugly stretches.
Controlling the pace
The Thunder love to run. Their youth and talent shine through in transition, so eliminating easy transition buckets will be a major key to pulling this one out. They rank 5th in the association in pace at 102.6, while Phoenix comes in 18th overall at 100.2.
SGA is the first name that comes to mind in terms of shredding the defense in transition. The Suns must to all they can to contain him and make his life as uncomfortable as possible tonight.
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
The Thunder currently rank 11th in offensive rating while Phoenix sits at 15. Defensively the Suns hold the edge, ranked 11th while OKC comes in at 17 overall.
The last obvious point that was highlighted earlier in this preview is to ensure that the turnovers are cut down. That and their inability to perform in the 4th quarter has cost them at least 3, arguably 4 games this season already.
Thunder win, 117-113.
I want Phoenix to win, I do. But they need to prove they can close games out before I can confidently predict them to win. Prove me wrong.