- THE MATCHUP: Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks
- WHEN IS IT: Thursday, January 16, 7:35 PM ET
- THE LOCATION: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
- TELEVISION: MSG Network, Fox Sports Arizona
The Phoenix Suns (16-24, 7-10 AWAY) would begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday, and it would start out with them getting flat out embarrassed by the 9-32 Atlanta Hawks, the worst team in the National Basketball Association, in a 123-110 loss. On top of that, the night would also end with Devin Booker heading to the locker room after an ejection with just one minute left in the game.
On Thursday night against the New York Knicks (11-30, 6-13 HOME), Phoenix is hoping for a much better result as they visit New York City’s Madison Square Garden for their second game of their current road trip.
Entering their last game of the first half of the regular season, the Suns are currently placed at 16-24, which has showed huge progression for the franchise after just locking in 19 wins last campaign. The first 40 games this season is the best start for Phoenix since 2014-15 when they would win 22-of-40. With that being said, part of the Suns’ latest stretch has seen them on a decline, going 5-12 in their last 17 contests, and this features an eight-game losing streak that would take place from December 11-27.
Statistical Comparison: Phoenix Suns vs. New York Knicks
- Phoenix Suns: 113.1 PPG
- New York Knicks: 104.8 PPG
Field Goal Percentage
- Phoenix Suns: 46.2 FG%
- New York Knicks: 43.4 FG%
- Phoenix Suns: 27.6 APG
- New York Knicks: 21.2 APG
- Phoenix Suns: 114.3 PA
- New York Knicks: 113.2 PA
- Phoenix Suns: 3.8 BLK
- New York Knicks: 4.5 BLK
- Phoenix Suns: 7.8 STL
- New York Knicks: 7.8 STL
- Phoenix Suns: 43.5 RPG
- New York Knicks: 46.1 RPG
- Phoenix Suns: L1
- New York Knicks: L1
Last 10 Games
- Phoenix Suns: 5-5
- New York Knicks: 4-6
Last Five Games
- Phoenix Suns: at Atlanta Hawks (L 123-110), vs. Charlotte Hornets (W 100-92), vs. Orlando Magic (W 98-94), vs. Sacramento Kings (L 114-103), vs. Memphis Grizzlies (L 121-114)
- New York Knicks: at Milwaukee Bucks (L 128-102), vs. Miami Heat (W 124-121), vs. New Orleans Pelicans (L 123-111), at Utah Jazz (L 128-104), at Los Angeles Lakers (L 117-87)
- Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns): 26.1 PPG, 50.5 FG%, 91.9 FT%
- Marcus Morris Jr. (New York Knicks): 19.1 PPG, 43.8 FG%, 83.0 FT%
- Kelly Oubre Jr. (Phoenix Suns): 6.3 RPG, 5.1 DRPG, 1.2 ORPG
- Julius Randle (New York Knicks): 9.2 RPG, 7.0 DRPG, 2.2 ORPG
- Ricky Rubio (Phoenix Suns): 9.3 APG, 2.5 TOPG, 32.2 MPG
- Julius Randle (New York Knicks): 3.3 APG, 2.9 TOPG, 32.0 MPG
They’ve recovered a little bit since that streak with some winning basketball, starting out with a December 28th victory over the Sacramento Kings on the road. After the losing streak, they have been 5-4 in their last nine games. Phoenix had an opportunity to build up a three-game winning streak, but would blow it against the Hawks, allowing Atlanta hit to hit 49.5% of their shots, as well as allowing them to score 39 points in the fourth quarter.
In that game, Devin Booker would put up 39 points on the board, and in the past seven games, he is tallying 31.3 points-per-game. However, squaring off against the Hawks, Booker would end up getting ejected with just 1:35 left in the contest, this due to a technical foul after a dunk and then staring at DeAndre Bembry of Atlanta.
Due to personal reasons, the Suns would be without their point guard Ricky Rubio against the Hawks — Rubio has a stat line of 13.2 points-per-game and 9.3 assists-per-game this season. Without his services, Phoenix would rack up just 20 assists, and doing this despite hitting 46% of their shots, but you have to consider the performance of Elie Okobo. Okobo would start in place for Rubio, and score a big goose egg in 22 minutes of action.
“I thought our offense just sputtered tonight,” Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams commented to the media after his team would only record their second-fewest total of assists this season. “Certainly not having Ricky on the floor hurt. … But we had chances. The ball movement certainly wasn’t there.”
Back on December 5, the New York Knicks would suffer a 37-point blowout 129-92 defeat on their home court to the Denver Nuggets. Afterwards, the Knicks would pull the trigger on firing their head coach David Fizdale and would replace him with Mike Miller. Since the change, New York has compiled a record of 7-12. Not bad for the Knicks’ standard of basketball, but lately, they seem to getting back to where they started, losing six out of their last seven games — this coming after winning three games in a row from December 26-January 1.
The sole win in New York’s latest losing stretch would be an impressive one though, chalking up a victory against the Miami Heat on Sunday. Not only would they get the W either, but they would accomplish it by coming back from 14 points down. The Knicks would win at Madison Square Garden with a final score of 124-121. Afterwards, they would get right back to their losing ways, getting hammered by the Bucks in Milwaukee, 128-102, on Tuesday. However, that would be a massive improvement from their 44-point blowout 132-88 loss in Milwaukee back on December 2.
“Can’t have too many errors, can’t have too many mistakes, when you’re playing a team like that,” New York Knicks forward Julius Randle commented after putting up 25 points against the Milwaukee Bucks. “Early we gave ourselves a chance, but in the end, we didn’t. We’ve just got to be better.”
The Phoenix Suns weren’t the only ones who would suffer an ejection in their last game, the New York Knicks would also take a hit in that form as well. In the third quarter against the Bucks, Knicks starting point guard Elfrid Payton would get ejected after arguing with referees, and it would come with New York already missing two other point guards due to injury — Dennis Smith Jr. (oblique) and Frank Ntilikina (groin).
- Ricky Rubio: Questionable (Personal)
- Kelly Oubre Jr.: Out (Concussion)
New York Knicks
- Reggie Bullock: Probable (Sore Neck)
- Mitchell Robinson: Probable (Sprained Left Big Toe)
- Marcus Morris Sr.: Questionable (Neck)
- Frank Ntilikina: Questionable (Groin)
- Dennis Smith Jr.: Out (Oblique)
Also on the injury report, the Knicks were missing Marcus Morris as well because of a sore neck, and it would be his fifth straight game being out of action. Rumored to be traded by the February 6 deadline, Morris is New York’s leading scorer with an average of 19.1 points-per-game. Morris would last play on January 5, where he would score 38 points against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Between the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks, the Suns have taken the last three contests between the two. In their last meeting on January 3 at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix would take the 120-112 victory in a game that would see Devin Booker put up 38 points.
So, Who’s Going to Win?
When it comes to the playoffs, both the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks would be ousted if the season ended today. With the Suns though, at least there’s still some hope for them, being just 2.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. For the Knicks, it’s much worse, placed as the next-to-worst team in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, placed 8.0 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the eighth seed.
Recently, New York has been dealing with injuries left and right too, and as a result, they’ve been shooting the ball at a dismal rate — like they weren’t bad before, I know. Throughout the entire season, the Knicks have struggled to hit their shots, and with it being like that for the entire campaign, it’s hard to pick a team like that to win, especially when they’re the New York Knickerbockers.
Without Ricky Rubio, the Phoenix Suns have had less-quality play as a result, but they’ve still been competitive with the firepower of Devin Booker who has kept his Suns in games night in and night out. Another positive thing for the Suns is the possible return of DeAndre Ayton into the starting lineup, which could possibly happen tonight against New York, a role that the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft has been craving to do.
Flat out, the Phoenix Suns are the better team in this contest, and they should have the vast majority of the leverage that delivers them the victory. Give me the Suns.
BETTING PREDICTION: Phoenix Suns 116, New York Knicks 106