In spite of a bit of off-season drama and a rash of injuries to some key players to start the season, the Phoenix Suns once again find themselves in first place in the Western Conference. Phoenix finished last season with a league-best 64-18 record behind a top five offense and defense, only to bow out to the Western Conference runner-up Dallas Mavericks in a second round upset that concluded with the Suns being blown out in Game 7 on their home floor. Combined with their loss in the NBA Finals the year before, these are the sort of losses that can destroy a team’s psyche and convince a front office to shake things up.
Instead, Phoenix chose to stay the course and has largely picked up where they left off. After a bit of cat-and-mouse to begin free agency, the Suns matched an offer sheet given to center DeAndre Ayton by the Indiana Pacers and locked him up for 4 years. Disputes with forward Jae Crowder over his role rocked the boat a bit in the early going and the, “Point God,” Chris Paul has only appeared in 10 games this season, but the strong play of Ayton, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, and the bench have been enough to keep the Suns ahead of the rest of the West through the first quarter of the season.
Phoenix is coming off a 1-point loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday night, a loss that snapped a 6-game winning streak. The Spurs, meanwhile, will once again be shorthanded in their quest to end their losing streak, which stands at 10 straight losses.
San Antonio Spurs (6-17) vs Phoenix Suns (15-7)
December 4, 2022 | 3:00 PM CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Jakob Poeltl (knee - OUT), Jeremy Sochan (quad - OUT), Josh Richardson (ankle - OUT), Doug McDermott (day to day)
Suns Injuries: Cam Johnson (OUT), Chris Paul (heel - OUT), Torrey Craig (day to day), Mikal Bridges (day to day)
What to watch for
- Devin Booker remains one of the leagues most gifted scorers. The 8th year guard out of Kentucky is averaging a career-high 29.5 points per game and is currently riding a streak of 3 consecutive games of 40 or more, including 51 points in just 3 quarters on 20-25 shooting against the Chicago Bulls in a win last Wednesday. Booker (who was named the Western Confernce Player of the Month for October and November) has 136 total points in his last 3 games.
- The Suns are in transition on about 15% of their possessions, a number that’s bottom 5 in the league. Phoenix doesn’t rely on transition opportunities to score points, but they are top 10 in turnovers forced per game. If the Spurs aren’t careful, the Suns could flip their script and punish a Spurs team that hasn’t been able to figure out their transition defense all season long.
- Mikal Bridges is having a career year in a variety of categories, including points, rebounds, assists, minutes, and usage %. The 5th year two-way forward fits in perfectly alongside Booker and Ayton.
- Former Spur Jock Landale has appeared in 19 games for Phoenix this season. He’s averaging 6 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes of action in those contests.
- Devin Vassell has 13 games scoring 20 or more, including the 25 he scored against the Pelicans on Friday night. Vassell scored 20 or more just 7 times all of last season.
For the Suns fan’s perspective, please visit Bright Side of the Sun
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