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Booker Blazing, Beal Bouncing: Can Suns Beat Butlerless Heat?

The Phoenix Suns (18-16, 9th in Western Conference) and Miami Heat (20-14, 4th in Eastern Conference) meet tonight at Footprint Center for their first matchup this season. This game marks the fifth of the Suns’ six-game homestand and the final matchup of the Heat’s five-game road trip. The Suns had a four-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday with a 131-122 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Heat are coming off a 110-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers that ended their two-game losing skid. Kevin Durant was just ruled out for the third straight game due a right hamstring strain, while the Heat will be without Jimmy Butler. This will be Butler’s seventh missed game over the team’s last eight contest, but the Heat have gone 5-1 without him so far over this stretch. The Suns will also be without Eric Gordon and Nassir little, while the heat will be missing Caleb Martin.

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Local Game Information

Start Time: 7:00 p.m. MST

Location: Footprint Center

TV Channel: 3TV/AZ Family

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, La Mejor 106.5 FM

Stream: Suns Live (click for more info)

Betting Odds

Line: PHX -2.5

O/U: 227.5

Injury Report

Phoenix Suns: Kevin Durant (right hamstring strain) OUT | Eric Gordon (right knee soreness) QUESTIONABLE | Nassir Little (left knee soreness) QUESTIONABLE | Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) OUT

Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler (right 1st MP joint sprain) OUT | Caleb Martin (right ankle sprain) OUT | Haywood Highsmith (concussion protocol) OUT | Dru Smith (right knee surgery) OUT

Starters (Projected)

Phoenix Suns: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen, Chimezie Metu, Jusuf Nurkić

Miami HeatKyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jovic, Bam Adebayo

Five Keys to Game for Suns

  1. Playing a full 48 minutes
  2. Get someone rolling outside Beal and Booker
  3. Rebounding
  4. 1-on-1 defense
  5. Speed the game up

Prediction

Heat 112 – Suns 105

Even with Jimmy Butler and Cody Martin out, the Suns have struggled mightily against teams over .500, and I don’t expect that to change tonight. The Heat play at a very slow tempo, and the Suns have not proven that they have the ability to speed things up and play at their pace. It could be a game where Phoenix gets sucked into playing very slow, which will not bode well for them not having Kevin Durant or Eric Gordon to create a lot of shots. I still think the Suns can keep this one close, and they have a lot to build on after a strong end to the last game, but the only way for them to win this game is to speed the Heat up.

Last Time Out

The Phoenix Suns fell 131-122 to the Los Angeles Clippers at home Wednesday night to end a four-game winning streak. Right out of the gates, the Clippers’ offensive prowess across the board was too much for the Suns to handle until late in the game. Los Angles led by 15 after the first quarter and as much as 23 in the third quarter before the Suns started to make a comeback effort, but it was too late. both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George finished with 30+ points for LA. Devin Booker got rolling in the second half for Phoenix recording 35 points on 11-of-15 shooting (73%) and six assists. Bradley Beal had 21 points and five rebounds, while Eric Gordon (16 points, five rebounds) and Bol Bol (14 points, five rebounds) made solid contributions off the bench.

The Miami Heat defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-96 on Wednesday to snap a two-game losing streak. All eight players that saw minutes for Miami scored in double figures, led by Tyler Herro’s 21 points and six rebounds and Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s 16 points and eight assists. The Heat led big for most of the night until the Lakers cut the lead to 74-72 lead with 10:46 to go in the game. Miami responded with a 10-2 run led by Duncan Robinson, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth. Without Butler and Martin, everyone on the team that played contributed significantly to get them the win.

Flashback: Last Meeting (Jan. 5, 2023)

Suns Lose Chris Paul, Fall to Miami Heat

Team Matchup Notes

Here are some stats, notes and everything else to know about the Suns and Heat before their first matchup of the season (via Suns)

Each team’s stats (via Suns):

Preview: Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon, Nassir Little Out

Kevin Durant and Two Other Suns Ruled Out vs. Heat

Preview: Heat without Jimmy Butler, but Doing Just Fine

Heat Star to Miss Third Straight Game Tonight vs. Suns

Preview: Bol Bol’s Strong Play

Bol Bol taking full advantage of opportunities with Suns

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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