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Thunder Head To Phoenix For Matchup With Suns

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PHOENIX, Arizona -

Oklahoma City continues its mini road trip on Monday night when they take on the Suns in Phoenix, and they’ll look to improve to 3-0 against the Suns this season. Here are a few thing to know about Monday’s game, which is set to tip at 8 p.m. CT.

Suns have familiar face at coach

Phoenix decided to part ways with head coach Jeff Hornacek last week, which means that former Thunder point guard Earl Watson has been appointed the interim coach for the rest of the season. Watson was on the OKC roster back when the team first came over from Seattle, and was an integral piece in the drafting of Russell Westbrook to the Thunder due to their UCLA ties.

Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Nick Collison were all teammates with Watson in OKC, so it’ll be interesting to see how the three interact now that he’s coaching a Western Conference foe.

Thunder looking for bounce-back win

All eyes were on the Thunder/Warriors matchup on Saturday, but OKC came up just short of an epic comeback win and fell to the Warriors 116-108. The Thunder played the Warriors better than any of the other supposed “contenders”, and did a terrific job in slowing down the Steph Curry-Draymond Green pick-and-roll game, but in the end the Thunder should’ve played better down the stretch.

Oklahoma City failed to score a field goal in the game’s final three and a half minutes, and in turn they’ll need to get a win in Phoenix to make sure they don’t come back to Oklahoma City empty handed.

Don’t overlook Phoenix

The Suns hold a 14-38 record on the season, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Thunder approach this contest after all the hype that surrounded the Warriors matchup. Also worth noting: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Anthony Morrow all stayed in the Bay area today so they could be at the Super Bowl, so some of the players are already out of their normal rhythm.

Phoenix has played hard against the Thunder in the past, and there has been some heated exchanges between Westbrook and both Alex Len and PJ Tucker in the past. These two teams don't like each other at all, and don't be surprised to see tempers flare again on Monday. 

Since there’s virtually no chance the Suns will make the playoffs, Phoenix will mostly focus on developing its young players such as Len, Devin Booker and Archie Goodwin. All three young guys have played well as of late, so the Thunder will need to lock in defensively despite still being without stopper Andre Roberson. 

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