The Suns are rolling, coming off two straight wins despite subpar shooting nights. It could be proof that Phoenix is becoming the kind of team that can muscle out victories under any conditions.
Up next: the team that seems to set the Suns back a peg every time they get going.
The Spurs have beaten Phoenix twice this season, once after they started the season 3-1 and again in December to snap their five-game winning streak.
Can the Suns buck the trend and beat their Western Conference rivals? Here are five things that will come into play.
Tucker on the Glass
P.J. Tucker has shown a knack for effective rebounding, which has only increased over the last week. The 6-6 forward is averaging 13.2 points and 10.0 rebounds over the last five games. His 6.5 boards per contest ranks second on the team behind Miles Plumlee (8.5 rpg).
That will come in handy against San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, who is also an exceptional rebounder (6.1 rpg) at the small forward position.
Limiting Role Players
Injuries have not limited the Spurs this season, not even when – or especially when – their star players are the ones on the sidelines..
The Spurs beat Portland, one of the better teams in the conference, without the services of Tony Parker or Tim Duncan on Tuesday. In their last game against Phoenix, they pulled away for the win without Parker.
The French point guard is likely out again tonight, but the Suns will want to keep an eye on – and a hand in the face of – the likes of Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and Danny Green.
Thirty-seven. That’s the number of turnovers committed against the Spurs over their previous two meetings. Those led to 44 points for San Antonio, a crippling effect in a pair of games Phoenix lost by a mere 10 points combined.
That makes tonight a better time than any to stop their recent trend with the ball: over their last four games, the Suns have turned it over an average of 16.5 times per contest, a clip which would put them near the bottom of the league.
If they can cut those down, they’ll have a better chance of keeping up with…
Danny Green and Tim Duncan may not produce the highlights of Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee, but they and the rest of the Spurs haven’t needed them to produce points.
San Antonio is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the league, ranking second in field goal percentage (49.0) and first in three-point percentage (39.3).
Phoenix will need to at least contest and bother the Spurs when they try to run their offensive sets.
Suns From Deep
Phoenix has been especially efficient from downtown against one of the better perimeter defenses in the league this season. The Suns are shooting over 41 percent from beyond the arc against the Spurs through two games, and Channing Frye (5-for-6) is a big reason for that.
If the Suns can continue to space the floor, it should open things up Dragic and Plumlee inside.