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Suns visit injury-depleted Spurs on Friday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 4/11/2014  at  10:54:00 AM
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PHOENIX SUNS (47-31)

at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (61-18)

Tip-off: Friday, 8:35 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -2.5, Total: 207

A possible preview of a first-round playoff matchup occurs on Friday night when the Suns travel to Texas to take on the Spurs.

Phoenix has certainly surprised most with their play this season and continues to fight for a playoff spot as the season winds down. The club has won nine of its past 11 games (7-4 ATS), including three in row. Two of those victories came as an underdog with a 109-93 win against the 4.5-point favorite Blazers and an impressive 122-115 victory while getting three points from the Thunder. Most recently, the Suns shot 48.7% from the field on their way to a 94-88 win in New Orleans on Wednesday, and are now tied for seventh with Dallas in the Western Conference standings, one game behind sixth-place Golden State, but only one game ahead of ninth-place Memphis. San Antonio has continued to be an elite team despite some of its aging, and injured stars, which includes PG Tony Parker (back) and PF Tim Duncan (knee) who are both doubtful to play on Friday night. The Spurs have gone 2-2 (SU and ATS) over their past four games following a franchise-record 19-game winning streak that has put them in great position to earn the top overall seed in the postseason, leading Oklahoma City by 3.5 games. Phoenix has been the NBA's best team against the spread on the road this season with a 27-11 ATS record (71%) while going 21-17 SU. Meanwhile, San Antonio is nearly unbeatable at home with a 31-8 SU record, but is just 19-20 ATS at AT&T Center. The Spurs took the first two games of this season series SU (1-1 ATS) while the Suns pulled off a big 106-85 win at home as two-point underdogs on Feb. 21. In the contest, Phoenix held its usually efficient opponent to just 29-of-83 shooting (34.9% FG) and 2-of-21 threes. This matchup has been dominated by San Antonio when playing at home since 1996, as the club is 35-15 SU, but just 21-24 ATS in that time. The Suns could also be without one of their stars, as PG Goran Dragic (ankle) will be a game-time decision for this contest.

Can the Suns pick up a big win against the injury-riddled Spurs? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Zach is a stellar 65% ATS (15-8) in NBA Best Bets since March 9, while StatFox Gary has remained hot with a 57% ATS mark (21-16) in Best Bets since Feb. 13. StatFox Dave has a profitable 54% ATS (50-42-2) NBA Best Bets record since Dec. 1, while StatFox Brian is 53% ATS (29-26-1) in Best Bets since Jan. 25.

Phoenix has fit in well with the rest of the Western Conference as it has put up 105.5 PPG (6th in league) this season. The Suns' road play has not been quite as good though, with 102.3 PPG (45% FG), including fewer than 100 points in three of their past four away from home. The defense is allowing opponents to drop 102.6 PPG (9th-worst in NBA) against them on the year. SG Goran Dragic (20.5 PPG, 5.9 APG, 1.3 SPG) has averaged 21.7 PPG over the team's recent three-game winning streak, and has been the life of this club all season. He has played in just two of the three games against the Spurs this season, struggling with 13.0 PPG (32% FG) to go along with 4.5 APG. PG Eric Bledsoe (17.6 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG) has provided a late-season spark for the Suns after returning from a meniscus injury, and has been extremely efficient in the past four games, going 28-for-52 from the field (54% FG) while averaging 19.5 PPG. In his two games facing San Antonio, heís scored 14.5 PPG (44% FG) with 6.0 APG. PF Markieff Morris (13.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG) has been one of the most important players on this team despite coming off the bench, but has only 10.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG in the past two contests. With 18.7 PPG (74% FG), 7.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG and 1.3 BPG, Morris has had no issues with the Spurs so far in three games this season, and should shine once again with Tim Duncan likely sidelined.

San Antonio is averaging 105.4 PPG (7th in league) this season, and one of the main reasons the team is able to put up so many points year-after-year is its efficiency. The Spurs lead the NBA in assists (25.2 APG), which has helped them shoot 48.8% FG (2nd in league) and an NBA-best 39.9% threes. Where they differ from many teams in the Western Conference is their elite defense, which has limited their opponents to just 97.3 PPG (5th in league) on 44.3% FG (8th in NBA) this season. PF Tim Duncan (15.2 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG) will certainly be missed for this matchup. In his 59 career games against Phoenix, Duncan has averaged 21.5 PPG (53% FG), 11.9 RPG and 2.1 BPG while doing slightly less (15.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG) in the three games against them in 2013-14. SF Kawhi Leonard (12.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG) has been vital to this teamís success as players like Duncan and Tony Parker get older, but Leonard has netted just 11.0 PPG (38% FG) while grabbing 6.0 RPG against Phoenix over two meetings this season. With Parker unlikely to play on Friday, PG Patty Mills (10.2 PPG, 1.8 APG) will look to build on his monster performance on Thursday when he scored 26 points with six assists and zero turnovers. SG Manu Ginobili (12.4 PPG, 4.3 APG) scored just 10 points in his most recent game, but was able to contribute seven assists in the win over the Mavericks. He has averaged 13.0 PPG (46% FG) with 4.7 RPG and 3.7 APG against the Suns over three contests this season.

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