Suns spend Christmas at home before weekend back-to-back on road
The NBA season’s yearly calendar can give teams the potential of spending Thanksgiving and/or Christmas away from home.
The 2020-21 edition for the Phoenix Suns, though, has taken a fortunate turn in that regard. Thanksgiving took place before the start of the season, and they’ve got two days off after the season-opening win before a weekend back-to-back in Sacramento against the Kings.
That includes Christmas, which the Suns will be able to enjoy with family in town before flying out later on Friday to Sacramento.
“It’s really cool. Different but cool,” head coach Monty Williams said Thursday. “Different in that, you play one game and we’re on to a Christmas slate of basketball games. So for me, as a fan, I can’t wait to watch games tomorrow but also spend time with my crew. All of my kids are in town — it’s a rarity in my house to have everybody in the same house. I’m so excited for that and all the goofy stuff that’s going to happen authentically at my house. I can’t wait. We have a really good time doing nothing.”
After that nice break, Saturday will start a stretch of five games in seven days for the Suns.
“It’s gonna test our ability to manage practice time,” Williams said. “Use it well, maybe film study, maybe more walkthroughs.”
Williams noted that could mean getting other players involved, such as veteran guard E’Twaun Moore, who did not crack the rotation against Dallas. He also brought up Frank Kaminsky, the big man who spent last season with the Suns and was claimed off waivers on Monday.
Kaminsky returned to the team on Thursday. He said he needed to have a couple of negative COVID-19 tests come back and that a gap in his testing while he was waived set him back a bit with the NBA’s process. Kaminsky was a part of the practice while still going through some health and safety protocols.
While Kaminsky’s effectiveness last year was mixed, the Suns on Wednesday in the win over the Mavericks certainly looked like they could use him.
Deandre Ayton was in foul trouble throughout, playing only 12 minutes in the first three quarters. His backup Damian Jones had five fouls in eight minutes, and Jones played because Dario Saric is out dealing with a quad injury. That led to rookie Jalen Smith getting 16 unexpected minutes at the 5. He played well, but it’s a safe bet that Williams and the front office don’t want to rely a lot on Smith in the case that Saric is out. Jones’ performance did not inspire confidence that he could provide any more relief.
Kaminsky obviously has some familiarity with the system already. He said while watching Wednesday’s game at his house that he saw a lot of the same looks offensively and Williams didn’t rule out the chance of Kaminsky playing against the Kings.
The sixth-year big admitted he was playing through some injuries last year and is looking forward to another opportunity with Phoenix to show what he can do.
“I feel good. This is where I wanted to be,” Kaminsky said.