After a big win over a playoff team on Friday, Phoenix is hoping for a victory over a contender on Sunday.
The Thunder fit that description better than ever after snapping the Spurs’ 19-game winning streak last week, though they followed that feat by losing at Houston two nights later.
Can the playoff-hopeful Suns hand Oklahoma City back-to-back losses? Here are five things that will decide the answer.
Sense of Urgency
The Suns are fighting for their playoff lives, and they showed it with a gritty win over the playoff-bound Blazers on Friday.
No one typified the Suns’ energy more than Eric Bledsoe, who wreaked havoc on both ends of the court before finishing with 30 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
Phoenix typically takes off when at least one player exhibits that kind of effort. They’ll need it again against OKC.
You’ve probably heard of it by now. Thunder star Kevin Durant has scored at least 25 points in 40 consecutive games, matching the longest such streak established by some guy named Michael Jordan.
It’s apparent that Durant is conscious of this particular benchmark, a motivation for which the Suns will need to steel themselves, defensively Durant has shot at least 50 percent from the field in his previous two encounters with the Suns.
Gerald Green is a trending topic after his 32-point performance and alley-oop to himself off the backboard on Friday.
The Thunder offer a decent chance for a repeat, since they’ve given up an average of 31 points per contest to Green this season, including a 41-point outburst in their last meeting.
Interestingly enough, the Suns have proven to be the better rebounding team in the previous two meetings with Oklahoma City. They logged double-digit offensive rebounding efforts in both games, and the edge has come despite no Suns player hitting double-figure rebounding in either of the two contests.
Such team rebounding will be essential to counter Serge Ibaka and backup big men Steven Adams and Nick Collison.
Yes, the Thunder lost on Friday. That doesn’t mean Phoenix can’t get realistically greedy and aggressive today.
Oklahoma City has dropped back-to-back contests four times earlier this season, with the last loss in each of those losing streaks coming against the following teams: Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles (Lakers), and Golden State.
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