The Phoenix Suns appear to be all-in on trying to win their first championship at the end of this season. They took a major swing at the trade deadline, pushing all of their chips to the center of the table at the trade deadline to acquire Kevin Durant to pair with Chris Paul and Devin Booker, a deal with the Brooklyn Nets that cost them DPOY runner-up Mikal Bridges and guard Cam Johnson. The Suns were certainly hoping to see their new core in action and gelling ahead of the playoffs, but to this point, Phoenix has gotten a mere glimpse of their potential.
Durant, who has dealt with injury issues the last few years, came to Phoenix already nursing a knee injury that kept him out about a month. Following his return from that injury, he suited up in just 3 games before rolling his ankle in the layup line ahead of what was supposed to be his home debut in Phoenix. Now healthy once again and with 6 games in his Suns uniform, the Suns are hoping that the trio of Durant, Paul, and Booker will be enough to get them over the top in the Wild Wild West. When healthy, they certainly have the firepower to keep up with the best of them. Whether or not that will be enough to carry them to the Finals remains to be seen, but in what has been a shaky Western Conference this season, they certainly have a shot
San Antonio meanwhile may be coming to the end of their season, but they’ve still got guys competing hard, as was on display in their recent OT win over the playoff-bound Kings. A win tonight over another contender could send them to Austin, Texas riding a wave of joy at the end of what has been such a long season.
San Antonio Spurs (19-55) at Phoenix Suns (43-35)
April 4, 2023 | 9:00 PM CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Keldon Johnson (day to day), Jeremy Sochan (day to day), Devin Vassell (day to day), Charles Bassey (OUT), Khem Birch (knee - OUT),
Suns Injuries: None
What to watch for
- The remaining Suns may have little court time with Kevin Durant, but he has looked like a perfect fit in the few games that he has played with them. Phoenix is on a 5-game win streak and 3 of those dubs came with Durant in the line-up. The last 2 featured vintage Durant performances, as he scored 30 and 35 in each of them on efficient shooting while contributing all-around. The crafty Durant doesn’t need the ball very often to do his damage, an aspect of his game that may make the limited number of reps he’s gotten with his new teammates a nonfactor as they hunt for the title.
- 38-year old Chris Paul is averaging 31 minutes in the 57 games he’s suited up for this season. He’s still one of the best set-up men in the league (9.1 APG) and is averaging a tick under 2 turnovers a night (1.9). One of the big questions seemingly every April is will Paul be able to stay healthy for the duration of the playoffs. The Suns will certainly need him to be if they want to be playing into May and June.
- The Spurs had 31 assists in their win over the Kings. When the ball is moving, the San Antonio offense isn’t horrible to watch, they just don’t have enough guys right now that can finish plays. Movement on the offensive end also tends to lead to more energy and activity on the defensive end.
- Lost in the shuffle of the Suns’ new big 3 is DeAndre Ayton, who is enjoying another strong season in Phoenix as a skilled offensive big man. Ayton is also a problem on the defensive end of the floor, where his impressive mobility allows him to cover ground that many players his size normally aren’t capable of. There have been rumors of Phoenix over the years wanting to move on from him, but it’s tough to argue with his versatility and ability.
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