Just four games on the NBA schedule Monday and the only intraconference matchup is a potential Western Conference Finals preview as the Utah Jazz (30-17) visit the Phoenix Suns (36-9). It appears both will be without their All-Star-caliber center as Rudy Gobert, a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and Deandre Ayton, are listed as doubtful. The Suns are 9-point favorites at Caesars Sportsbook. Click here for model picks.
The former No. 1 overall pick Ayton has missed the past three games with a sprained ankle and is averaging 16.8 points and 10.6 rebounds on the season. One might think the Suns would struggle without Ayton, but he has now missed 17 total games this season and Phoenix is 14-3 in them.
The Suns also enter on a six-game winning streak and have a three-game lead over Golden State for the best record in the NBA. The Suns are the only team in the NBA to rank in the Top 5 in offensive, defensive and net rating. With a victory tonight, they would tie the best 46-game start to a season in franchise history.
In Phoenix's win over Indiana on Saturday, Bismack Biyombo became the seventh Suns player in franchise history with 20+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists off the bench, and the first to do so since James Jones in 2006. Biyombo was signed off the street early this month and has been great. Phoenix will for sure be without starting swingman Jae Crowder and backup point guard Cameron Payne due to injury.
Utah has lost seven of nine and is in the second of a back-to-back following a 94-92 loss at Golden State on Sunday. Bojan Bogdanovic's potential winning three-pointer at the end rimmed out. Gobert was in question for that one but played and had 12 points and 18 rebounds. The Stifle Tower apparently strained his calf and that's why he's not likely tonight. Utah is 1-4 without him this season. Bogdanovic and backup center Hassan Whiteside are both in question tonight and leading scorer Donovan Mitchell remains out in the concussion protocol.
Phoenix has won four straight vs. Utah but this is their first meeting this season. They play again Wednesday in Salt Lake City.
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