San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns Pick & Prediction MARCH 23rd 2024

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The Phoenix Suns have to make hay while they can in a bid to move up the standings, beginning Saturday with the first of two games in three nights against the host San Antonio Spurs.

The Suns (41-29) are in a virtual tie with the Dallas Mavericks for sixth place in the Western Conference with 12 games to play. Phoenix would lose the tiebreaker with Dallas and has the toughest remaining schedule in the West, facing 10 consecutive playoff-bound teams after the two games in the Alamo City.

That makes beating the hapless Spurs (15-55) imperative.

“We obviously want to avoid the play-in, but if the play-in happens then we play,” Suns star Devin Booker said. “Just control the controllables, keep working on ourselves, keep getting better, and I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

Phoenix heads to San Antonio on the heels of a 128-115 home victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. Booker scored 30 points to propel the Suns to their sixth win in their last nine games. Eric Gordon scored 21 points off the bench, Kevin Durant contributed 19, Royce O’Neale had 14, Grayson Allen added 13 and Bradley Beal collected 12 points and nine assists.

The Suns hit 55.4 percent of their shots from the floor and drained 22 of their 41 attempts from beyond the arc in Thursday’s win. It’s the first time all season that Phoenix has been 12 games over .500.

“It is positive, but we gotta keep fighting,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “We want to finish in the top six and the competition is fierce. Some great teams in the Western Conference, so it seems like everybody in the league’s been on a winning streak and we gotta keep pace.”

San Antonio is the last place team in the West and already eliminated from postseason consideration despite the contributions of rookie Victor Wembanyama.

The Spurs play the seventh contest of a season-long eight-game homestand after a 99-97 loss to the undermanned Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. San Antonio looked to be headed to a sure loss in the final 30 seconds before 3-pointers by Devin Vassell and Tre Jones, the latter with 19 seconds to play, tied the game at 97.

The Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. hit a floater with 1.2 seconds left for the deciding points, and Wembanyama’s wild 35-foot attempt at the buzzer didn’t even draw iron.

“When it comes down to losing on the last possession, it’s a tough feeling,” Jones said afterward. “But when a team comes in like that as injured as they were and we let them outwork us, it’s definitely a tough one.”

Wembanyama led the Spurs with 31 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. Vassell added 27 points and Jones had 16 for San Antonio, which has dropped five of its past six games.

“If you hold a team to 99, you should win a lot of games,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “But if you give up 20 points on turnovers and shoot 18 percent (from 3), it’s going to make it tough on you. End of story. It had nothing to do with a play here, a play there. It’s about the whole thing together.”

San Antonio must win six of its final 12 contests to surpass the franchise’s all-time worst record of 20-62 set in 1996-97. Nine of the Spurs’ remaining games are against teams currently set for the postseason.

–Field Level Media

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