The Suns are totally in “tanking” mode. This is obvious and non-negotiable when Phoenix at one point in Wednesday’s game against the Jazz goes with a lineup of Diante Garrett, Wesley Johnson, Jared Dudley, Jermaine O’Neal and Hamed Haddadi. Seriously, the third string point guard, two shooters and the only two centers, all in the game together?
Dragic should be riding the bench in tonight’s game with the Sacramento Kings as well. That combined with the King’s slightly better record has ESPN favoring the Kings by two points on the betting line Thursday.
In terms of injury, the Kings only had Tyreke Evans listed, by he played 34 minutes Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, so he should be fine.
For Phoenix, injuries are piling up. Channing Frye has been out all season with his enlarged heart (I can’t wait until he comes back), and Gortat is probably out for the season with his knee injury. O’Neal’s calf injury wasn’t serious enough to not let him play 16 minutes against Utah, and Dudley also played the same number of minutes in that game after having flu-like symptoms last week. That, combined with the Dragic “rest” gives the Suns a depleted depth chart.
Keys to the game: Suns
- If the Suns want to win this game (and this is one I’m OK with them winning) they need to limit DeMarcus Cousins. He is huge and always plays with a chip on his shoulder and with Gortat out will be a load on the Suns frontcourt.
- Phoenix needs to put up points. Sacramento is last in the league in opponents’ scoring, giving up 104.7 points per game.
Keys to the game: Kings
- Sacramento just needs to hit the glass. Without Gortat the Suns will be extremely vulnerable to offensive rebounding. If the Kings can control the boards they can win.
- The Kings need to feed the beast inside, giving the ball to Cousins on the block, making points in the paint a priority for Sacramento’s offense.
Isaiah Thomas’ performance is the x-factor. If he can penetrate he can get everyone involved which makes their offense decently effective.
Match-up to watch:
It’s all about DeMarcus Cousins. Whoever is guarding him will have trouble with him, whether it is O’Neal, Haddadi, or Scola. If Cousins can get 25 points or more the Kings will come out victorious.