The Phoenix Suns try to snap a rare two-game skid when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder in a Wednesday night Western Conference clash. Opening tip of this Footprint Center contest is scheduled for 9 pm ET.
The Thunder are coming off a six-point loss to the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night. Oklahoma City are 12-21, in last place in the Northwest Division and trailing the Trail Blazers by a game.
Phoenix’ two consecutive losses match a season high (low?), beginning with a last-second, one-point decision against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday in the desert.. The Suns are 26-7 and in second place in the Pacific Division, a half-game behind first-place Golden State and 9½ games ahead of the third-place LA Clippers.
A Rough Road for Thunder
The Thunder have lost two straight on the road, including a 12-point setback against the Suns at this very venue last Thursday. Oklahoma City is just 5-11 away from home this season, averaging 98.1 points per game (102.7 ppg at home).
Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been on a scoring tear of late, averaging 31 points and 5.6 assists over the last three games. He had 29 points and seven assists in the loss to Phoenix last week, though he also turned the ball over five times.
Rookie guard Josh Giddey has been a pleasant surprise with his 10.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game, but he was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols Tuesday and is out for this contest. He had an interesting game Sunday against New Orleans, finishing with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but went scoreless for the first time in his brief career.
Forward Lu Dort is second on the Thunder in scoring (16.8 ppg), but he’ll be looking to avenge a disappointing game in his last appearance against the Suns. Dort scored 10 points (4-for-16 FG) Thursday, including 2-for-9 from the 3-point line.
The Suns have been hit by COVID-19 troubles, as starters Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder as well as coach Monty Williams were all missing for Monday’s loss (health/safety protocols). Phoenix spotted the Grizzlies 18 points Monday, taking the lead when Devin Booker hnd pt in favor of the visitors.
Regardless of the outcome, Book was incredible with this one. pic.twitter.com/rgCPofMkoZ
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 28, 2021
Booker had 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in last Thursday’s win over the Thunder, and he’ll be looking for more in this one. Booker leads Phoenix (23.1 ppg) and is shooting a career-best 42.2% from beyond the arc in 2021-22.
Guard Chris Paul will also need to be on his game with the Suns’ front line depleted. The 36-year-old leads the NBA in assists per game (10 apg) while also scoring 14.5 points per contest. Paul’s 3-point accuracy of 31.6% is his lowest for a season since his rookie campaign with those New Orleans Hornets back in 2005-06.
Forward Cam Johnson should get the start with Ayton and Crowder out, and he took advantage of a place in the starting five Monday. Johnson finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. He brings more energy and shooting to the starting lineup, aas evidenced by four 3-pointers in Monday’s loss.
Suns Win Easy
Phoenix needs a win to keep pace with Golden State atop the league standings, and even without two frontcourt starters, there ought to be sufficient firepower to get it. Oklahoma City has not fared well on the road this season, a trend that continues Wednesday.
When doing your NBA betting, take Phoenix to win and cover at home.