The Phoenix Suns will welcome back All-Star guard Devin Booker from a serious groin injury on Tuesday night as they make their only visit of the season to the Brooklyn Nets, who might be very short-handed again in the wake of the trade of Kyrie Irving over the weekend. Thus, the Suns are solid favorites on the NBA odds.
Suns Star Devin Booker is Ready to Play
Booker last played four minutes in a Christmas Night matchup in Denver before exiting with a left groin strain. An evaluation determined he would miss at least a month from that game. After an evaluation last week, Phoenix said it would wait another week for a reevaluation of his groin issue. This season in 29 games, he is averaging a career-high 27.1 points. Booker scored 58 in his last full game, a Dec. 17 win against the New Orleans Pelicans in which he played 42 minutes and the entire second half.
The Suns were initially in a tailspin without their best player, losing nine of 11 games, but have righted the ship recently, winning eight of their past 10 contests. Phoenix is currently 29-26, the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. Booker will be on a minutes restriction tonight and night come off the bench.
Suns coach Monty Williams called it a “joke” that Booker wasn’t named to the All-Star team. While Booker has missed 26 games this season, including the last 21, he still has more minutes logged than All-Star selectees Zion Williamson of the Pelicans and Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Grizzlies. It remains possible Booker could fit in as an injury replacement because Zion is not expected to play in the game and Steph Curry now won’t for sure.
Phoenix Suns at Brooklyn Nets
Where: Barclays Center
Time: 6:30 PM EST
Phoenix is 2-0 on its current five-game road trip following a 116-100 win in Detroit on Saturday. Chris Paul had the unusual line of zero points and 14 assists. It was the eighth time in his career that CP3 failed to hit a shot from the floor (0-for-7), the last time coming in 2017 when he played for the Clippers. The last time he played at least 30 minutes and scored zero points was in 2014.
Paul enters tonight’s game 1 steal shy of 2,500 for his career, as he would join Jason Kidd, John Stockton and Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history with 2,500+ career steals. Deandre Ayton was great in Saturday’s win with 31 points and 16 rebounds. It was the first 30/15 game of his career.
Phoenix was interested in trading for the Nets’ Irving and included Paul in the offer but Brooklyn sent Irving to Dallas. The two players the Nets got for Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, weren’t able to play Monday so quickly after the trade, which was only finalized a few hours before Monday’s game, and might not play here either.
Cam Thomas lit up the Clippers for 47 points in a 124-116 loss on Monday. Over the past two games, Thomas has scored 91 points while shooting 31-for-52 from the floor, 11-for-16 from deep and 18-for-20 from the free throw line. He became the second youngest player to score 40 points in back-to-back games behind LeBron James.
Ben Simmons sat out Monday’s game with a minor injury but says he will play tonight. Simmons is averaging 7.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.4 steals across 27.3 minutes over his first 37 appearances this season. Kevin Durant and Seth Curry remain out.
Phoenix has won three straight over the Nets after sweeping the regular season series with Brooklyn last season, 2-0, for the first time since 2014-15, and picking up a 117-112 win over the Nets in the first meeting of the season on Jan. 19. Nets assistant Igor Kokoskov was an assistant coach for the Suns from 2008-2013 and then became Phoenix’s head coach for the 2018-19 season.
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