by Gina Mizell

Headline

WEEK AHEAD
Here's how — and why — to tune in to each Suns game this week

We are coming down the stretch of a thrilling Phoenix Suns 2020-21 season. The Suns currently hold a 37-15 record after going 3-1 last week, including an entertaining overtime victory against Western Conference-leading Utah. Phoenix sits second place in the conference with 20 games to play, making the Suns a near-lock to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

But the hotly contested West isn’t far behind, with 4.5 games separating second and fifth in the standings. As the Suns fight for seeding and a Pacific Division title, every single remaining game matters.

“What we have a chance to do is really special,” second-year wing Cam Johnson said recently. “We all recognize that, and we’re committed to those goals.”

Each Monday through the end of the regular season, Suns.com will take a look at the week ahead to highlight where the Suns stand and why you should tune in to each matchup.

Monday, April 12 vs. Houston

Where to tune in: Bally Sports Arizona and Bally Sports app 
Suns Live! Pregame show: 6:30 p.m. Arizona time 
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Arizona time
Suns Live! Postgame show immediately following game 

Three reasons to tune in:

* Chris Paul is closing in on the top 5 of the NBA’s all-time steals list. He has 2,306 entering Monday, one behind No. 6 Scottie Pippen (2,307) and four behind No. 5 Maurice Cheeks (2,310). Paul, a future Hall of Famer, also continues to climb another NBA’s all-time list. In February, he passed Oscar Robinson for sixth in league history in career assists, and later reached the 10,000-assist milestone to join Magic Johnson, Mark Jackson, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and John Stockton.

*The Suns will aim to finish off a regular-season sweep of the Rockets. Last week, Phoenix won a rare 133-130 shootout in Houston during which the Suns went 18-of-37 from 3-point distance. Should the Suns win Monday, the Rockets will join Dallas, Toronto and Chicago as opponents that have been swept by Phoenix so far this season.

*Deandre Ayton will work to continue his dominance against the Rockets this season. Last week against Christian Wood — a frontrunner for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award — Ayton used his advantage in size and strength to record a season-high 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. In the January win in Houston, Ayton totaled 26 points, 17 rebounds and a career-high five blocks.

Tuesday, April 13 vs. Miami

Where to tune in: Bally Sports Extra 
Suns Live! Pregame show: 6:30 p.m. Arizona time 
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Arizona time
Suns Live! Postgame show immediately following game  

Three reasons to tune in:

* The Suns will also be vying for a season sweep of the Heat following a 110-100 win in Miami on March 23. Phoenix’s stingy defense was up to the task throughout a game the Suns led as many as 23 points, holding the Heat to 41.9 percent from the floor and forcing 14 turnovers for 17 points. Miami, though, has won six out of its past seven games.

*Devin Booker and Jimmy Butler are two of the NBA’s dynamic shooting guards. Butler totaled 14 points and 11 rebounds in the March 23 meeting against Phoenix, but also committed five turnovers and never got to the free-throw line. Booker, meanwhile, has scored at least 30 points in five of his past eight games entering Monday, and scored 27 in three quarters of work during Saturday’s dominant win over Washington. 

*Jae Crowder remains a popular figure with Heat fans because of his rugged playing style and timely shot-making, which helped push Miami to the 2020 NBA Finals. He scored 13 points and made three of his six 3-point attempts in the Suns’ last game against the Heat.

On the broadcast: 

Phoenix Mercury All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith will join the Suns broadcast team for Suns Live! pregame and halftime shows. The WNBA icon has traded hoops for a headset during this Suns season, regularly joining the longtime voices of Tom Leander, Tom Chambers, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Eddie Johnson and Kevin Ray to provide basketball analysis from the lens of an active professional basketball player.

Thursday, April 15 vs. Sacramento

Where to tune in: Bally Sports Arizona Plus and Bally Sports app 
Suns Live! Pregame show: 6:30 p.m. Arizona time 
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Arizona time
Suns Live! Postgame show immediately following game  

Three reasons to tune in:

*The Pacific Division rivals have not played since the season’s second and third games, which they split in Sacramento. Though the Kings have lost six games in a row entering Monday, they are still just three games back of the final spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament.

*Eyes will be on the backcourt matchup between Phoenix’s tandem of Booker and Paul and Sacramento’s duo of D’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Fox is putting up All-Star-caliber numbers (24.7 points, 7.2 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals per game entering Monday), while Haliburton (13 points, 5.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game) is a contender for Rookie of the Year. 

* It’s a safe bet that both the Suns’ Mikal Bridges and the Kings’ Buddy Hield will play. Over the past three seasons, Bridges and Hield are two of just three players in the league who have not missed a single game (the third is Indiana’s Justin Holiday). Bridges (41 percent on 4.3 attempts pe game entering Monday) and Hield (38.2 percent on 10.5 attempts per game) are two of the NBA’s dangerous 3-point shooters.

Saturday April 17 vs. San Antonio

Where to tune in: Bally Sports Arizona and Bally Sports app 
Suns Live! Pregame show: 6:30 p.m. Arizona time 
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Arizona time
Suns Live! Postgame show immediately following game  

Three reasons to tune in:

* This is the first game against the Suns’ heated historical rival this season. And it’s a potential playoff preview, as the Spurs enter Monday in ninth place the Western Conference standings.

* Monty Williams will go against the legendary Gregg Popovich, his longtime coaching mentor. The Suns went 1-2 against the Spurs last season, Williams’ first in Phoenix.

*This is another exciting matchup between backcourt tandems that feature a young standout and proven veteran. Williams recently commented that the crafty footwork of the Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan (21.2 points, 7.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds entering Monday) reminds him of Booker, while Dejounte Murray is averaging 15.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.6 steals per game entering Monday.

On the broadcast: 

Phoenix Mercury All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith will join the Suns broadcast team for Suns Live! pregame and halftime shows. The WNBA icon has traded hoops for a headset during this Suns season, regularly joining the longtime voices of Tom Leander, Tom Chambers, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Eddie Johnson and Kevin Ray to provide basketball analysis from the lens of an active professional basketball player.

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