By Paris Lawson | Broadcast and Digital Reporter | okcthunder.com
The Thunder welcomes the Phoenix Suns to Paycom Center in its penultimate home contest of the season. While the Thunder’s offense has posted high assist and 3-point numbers over its last six contests, its defense will be put to the test on Sunday against the Suns’ who hold the third-best offense in the league.
Game Day: OKC vs. PHX
WHAT TO WATCH
Dishes and Dimes – OKC’s ball movement has registered some strong stats over its last six games. During that span, the Thunder has averaged 26.7 assists per game which is ninth in the league. This sets up an interesting matchup against the Suns who rank fourth overall in assists per game this season as the team dishes out 27 per night. Expect both teams to lean into their ball movement on Sunday.
Defensive Test – Phoenix holds the third best defensive rating in the league while shooting at the highest field goal percentage of any team. The last time these two teams met, OKC forced 16 turnovers by the Suns which led to 18 points on the other end. Keep an eye on the Thunder’s defense and how it works to disrupt the well-oiled machine of Phoenix’s offense.
3-Point Streak – In its last game against the Pistons, the Thunder cashed in 11 3-pointers which marked the 13th consecutive game where the Thunder has made 10 or more triples. The streak now ties for the second longest in OKC history as the Thunder has averaged 14.7 3-pointers made during those 13 games.
Thunder two-way guard Lindy Waters III has played a key role in the Thunder’s success from deep as the rookie has drained four or more 3-pointers in four consecutive contests. Waters’ streak ties for the second-longest among rookies all time.
Thunder 10-day signee Jaylen Hoard stepped into his first career NBA start on Friday against the Pistons and not only scored the first two points of the contest but finished the game in the Thunder record books. The 6-9 forward logged a career-high 20 rebounds which set a new Thunder rookie record for rebounds in a single game and made him one of just six players in OKC history to pull down 20 or more boards in a game.
“He comes ready to play every night. He comes ready to work every day. High level of professionalism and when you have that kind of habit it's not surprising that you put him in a tough situation where it's just walking in the door and playing those types of minutes, not surprising that he performed the way did.”—Mark Daigneault on Jaylen Hoard’s minutes against the Pistons
The Suns (62-15) hold the number one spot in the Western Conference and have won nine of their last 10 contests. Phoenix is the only team in the league that ranks in the top three in both offensive and defensive rating this season sitting at third and second respectively. While Devin Booker headlines the scoring column for the Suns with 26.6 points per game, its Chris Paul who serves as the engine to the offense as he dishes out a league-leading 10.7 assists per night. Defensively, Phoenix averages the sixth most steals per game while generating roughly 18 points per game off of turnovers each night – the fifth highest mark in the league.