Monday, March 27, 2023
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NBA Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder (28-30) at Phoenix Suns (32-28)

When star guard Devin Booker was sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Phoenix Suns were underachievers earlier in the season.

However, Phoenix won 11 of 15 games before the All-Star break, Booker is healthy again, and Kevin Durant’s acquisition reenergized the team. With just 22 games remaining in the regular season, the Suns are suddenly seen as a contender for the title once more.

Although Durant won’t be on the court Friday night when Phoenix plays the Oklahoma City Thunder at home after the All-Star break, his impact is already clear.

On January 8, while he was a member of the Brooklyn Nets, Durant suffered a sprain to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He impressed his new teammates during a serious scrimmage on Thursday, and he is close to returning, possibly on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks or Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets.

On the court, Durant, who has been named an All-Star 13 times, has always been focused. Phoenix, which is fifth in the Western Conference, hopes that he will be the missing component in its quest for a championship.

Two years ago, the Suns made it to the NBA Finals, but they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. They were eliminated earlier in the season when the Dallas Mavericks beat them by 27 and 33 points in the Western Conference semifinals’ final two games.

In addition, Phoenix coach Monty Williams stated that Durant will have an impact on both sides of the ball, despite the fact that he is well-known for his tremendous offensive prowess, which includes winning four scoring titles.

The Thunder, Durant’s former team for nine seasons, starting with one campaign in Seattle, returned to action on Thursday night and lost to the host Utah Jazz 120-119 in overtime.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, an All-Star guard, had 39 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. He also had a chance to win the game, but his 16-foot bank shot in overtime ran out of time.

As the second half of a back-to-back series that comes before a six-game homestand ends, the Thunder are half a game out of the West’s final play-in spot.

Daigneault found the performance of his team to be encouraging despite Thursday’s agonizing outcome.

When Oklahoma City defeated the Suns 117-96 at home in their final meeting of the season, it ended a five-game skid in the series.

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