The Phoenix Suns will hope to snap out of their first losing streak in months when they face the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The encounter on Monday will be the first game between the teams this season before they meet for the last time next week.
After not losing back-to-back games since January, the Phoenix Suns absorbed a 128-119 setback to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday after Thursday’s loss to the Boston Celtics. Devin Booker carried the Suns against the Nets with 36 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Booker’s performance wasn’t nearly enough as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant scored 34 and 33 points, respectively.
The job doesn’t get any easier for the Phoenix Suns when they face the red-hot New York Knicks, who defeated the Toronto Raptors 120-103 on Sunday for their ninth straight win. Coach Tom Thibodeau and his men have been playing at a high level at the right time, with the playoffs within touching distance.
Fixture - Phoenix Suns vs New York Knicks | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Monday, April 26th, 7:30 PM ET (Tuesday, April 27th, 5:00 AM IST)
Venue - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Phoenix Suns Preview
It doesn't come as a surprise that the Phoenix Suns have lost two straight games. That should have been expected when Jae Crowder missed the last two games amid a tiring schedule. The New York Knicks game is the last of a five-game road trip that was scheduled within eight days of one another.
If the Phoenix Suns (42-18) want to continue to catch up to the Utah Jazz (44-16) for the best record in the Western Conference, they will have to beat a New York Knicks team that has been dominant defensively all season long. That’s a tall order, but the Suns will take solace from the fact that they are the league’s seventh-ranked team offensively (115.1 offensive rating).
If Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds versus the Nets, can continue their dominance at their positions, they could quickly break out of their mini-losing streak while derailing the New York Knicks’ bid to win 10 straight games.
Key Player - Devin Booker
In the Phoenix Suns’ four road games, Booker shot 44.0 percent from the field, averaging 23.5 points per game. However, he failed to score 20 points in two outings, which would have been concerning if not for his 36-point explosion against Brooklyn.
Nevertheless, the two-time All-Star has to keep scoring in the high 20s regularly if the Phoenix Suns are to continue their dominance. Chris Paul has been the catalyst for the team’s surprising rise to the No. 2 spot in the West, but it will be up to his backcourt mate to sustain the momentum. Given Paul’s injury history, Booker may need to take on more playmaking duties from here on.
A matchup with the New York Knicks’ athletic RJ Barrett will be quite entertaining.
Phoenix Suns Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Chris Paul l Shooting Guard - Devin Booker l Small Forward - Mikal Bridges l Power Forward - Cameron Johnson l Center - Deandre Ayton
New York Knicks Preview
The New York Knicks’ season-high winning streak could reach double-digits if they keep scoring like they have been doing the past two weeks. During this nine-game stretch, they have raised their scoring average as a team by 11.7 points per game.
The Knicks went from an unimpressive 104.9 points nightly production before their streak, to a remarkable 118.6 points per contest. Because of their sensational scoring in the past few games, the Knicks are now fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 34-27 record overall.
It’s the perfect time for the New York Knicks to go on this run considering they’re facing one of the best teams in the league in the Phoenix Suns.
Key Player - Julius Randle
In the middle of the New York Knicks’ best stretch all season is Julius Randle, who has been playing like an MVP lately. During their improbable run, the first-time All-Star scored 40 or more points twice and 30 or more six times.
Prior to this, Randle was already putting up career numbers across the board, but he has raised his game another notch. If he continues to keep this production going until the end of the season, the New York Knicks should be able to keep their fourth-place position in the East with an outside shot of taking the No. 3 spot at the Milwaukee Bucks’ expense.
The Phoenix Suns’ Cameron Johnson will probably guard Randle but will definitely be over-matched. Ayton may get a shot at him if the New York Knicks forward keeps punishing the Suns’ forwards in the paint.
New York Knicks Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Elfrid Payton l Shooting Guard - RJ Barrett l Small Forward - Reggie Bullock l Power Forward - Julius Randle l Center - Nerlens Noel
Suns vs Knicks Match Prediction
Given the New York Knicks’ recent string of impressive victories and the road-weary Phoenix Suns’ recent defensive issues, this looks like a winnable game for Thibodeau and his squad. Few teams can contain the Suns’ offense, but the Knicks are one of those teams.
Considering the Knicks have won seven straight at Madison Square Garden, it’s virtually a no-brainer to pick them to win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday.