Road-tested Spurs ready for eighth-straight win over Suns
Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a while since the Phoenix Suns have defeated the San Antonio Spurs – seven games, in fact. In those games, the Spurs ran up a 19-point average margin of victory, including a season-series sweep last year. So the Suns are raring to get this win.
But that’s easier said than done. This Suns team has lost four of their last six games and are 8-17 in the season. They barely squeaked by the New York Knicks on Tuesday, in a 113-111 overtime win – their fifth overtime game this season (and third win).
The Spurs, on the other hand, have won all but one of their road games this season (13-1), are 20-5 in the season and have allowed the third-fewest points per road game this season (97.8). They’re coming off a home victory Wednesday against the Boston Celtics about which coach Gregg Popovich said, “We communicated well defensively. This was one of our better games on the defensive end of the court.”
It was that same defense that held the Suns to 84, 79, and 89 points in their first three games against the Spurs last season. The Suns, unfortunately, are allowing an average of 113.2 points on 45.7 percent shooting this season and only averaging 107.1 points per game.
Of course, wins depend on the entire team playing well together, but both squads have some impressive star players to help lead them.
For the Suns
Eric Bledsoe is the No. 1 player for Phoenix right now – and he’s currently healthy, which is a major plus for him. He’s averaging 23.5 points, 6 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 1.9 three-pointers in his last 10 games. He missed 51 games last season, but luckily for the Suns he’s ready and able to play tonight.
Then there’s Devin Booker, a 20-year-old phenom averaging 18.4 points per game. T.J. Warren (17.7 points per game) and Brandon Knight (12.9 points per game) are also major players in Phoenix. The Suns are second in the league in pace, averaging 103.8 possessions per game – nearly five more than the league average.
For the Spurs
The Spurs, of course, have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Leonard is consistently the highest scorer on the team, averaging 24.7 points per game, 3.1 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1.9 three-pointers this season. Aldridge has been averaging 16.5 points per game, 1.7 assists, 6.7 rebounds, .8 steals, and .5 three-pointers. Not quite as outstanding as Leonard, but another plus is that Aldridge sat out Wednesday’s game to rest, so he’ll be coming into tonight’s matchup with plenty of energy.
Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili have also been having a strong game recently.
Keys to the game
If the Spurs want to get yet another road win, they’ll really need to work on stopping Bledsoe from scoring.
The Suns, of course, need to make sure Bledsoe scores as much as he possibly can. Their defense will have to work on blocking Leonard.