WHEN: Tonight, Oct. 26, 7:30 PST

WHERE: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

WATCH: Live on ESPN2

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns will play their preseason finale against the Denver Nuggets at home, which will also be broadcast nationally on ESPN2. This game will mark the final preseason game for both teams before the start of the new season, so this will be the last chance for the coaching staff to fine tune their line-ups and get their teams ready to play for when it actually counts.

Now that the rosters are set, at least for the time being, you can expect to see more minutes for the starters on both teams tonight, as well as plenty of minutes for the rotation guys as well.

Here's what to look for:

Probable Starters:

Goran Dragic vs. Ty Lawson - Ty Lawson is an explosive, fast and strong point guard who can both attack the basket and find the open shooter. Goran Dragic has many of the same traits, but is about 4-5 inches taller than Lawson, which should be to his advantage.

Jared Dudley vs. Andre Iguodala - Iguodala was a huge addition to the Nuggets this off-season, and should be a major factor for the Suns to contend with tonight. Jared Dudley has shown the ability to be a solid starting two-guard in the NBA, but he will have trouble staying in front of the strong and athletic Iguodala tonight. I expect Denver to exploit this match-up often.

Michael Beasley vs. Danilo Gallinari - This is one match-up that could go either way. Gallinari has shown he can be an extremely effective scorer, and is a more consistent player than Beasley. However, if the Suns get the same Michael Beasley tonight who played in the first five preseason games, he could make life very difficult for the Nuggets.

Luis Scola vs. Kenneth Faried - Scola will face the Manimal tonight in the post, and it will take everything Scola has to keep him off the glass and away from the basket. The advantages Scola has over Faried is his craftiness and more well-rounded game ... he will have to pull all of the tricks out of his hat tonight to battle Faried, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Morris match up against him at times as well.

Marcin Gortat vs. JaVale McGee - Gortat is coming off his most impressive game of the preseason against Golden State in which he scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. JaVale McGee has had a fairly productive preseason overall and also possesses the true center size and length that has bothered Gortat in the past. This is another match-up that could go either way.

Keys to the Game:

  • Defense - Will the Suns be able to solidify their defense against a very young and aggressive Nuggets team? The Suns were unable to stop Golden State this past Wednesday, and have struggled getting defensive stops all preseason long. Now that the roster and rotation is mostly set, will the Suns prove they can play effectively on both ends of the court?
  • Rebounding - Like Defense, the Suns have been unable to control the glass in the preseason thus far. This will be their toughest test to date with players like Faried, Iguodala and McGee to contend with, and the Suns will have to work together as a team to make sure they box out and secure the ball.
  • The Bench - The Suns' starting five has been a pleasant surprise throughout most of the preseason, executing plays with high efficiency and working together as a unit. However, the Suns have been struggling to find their go-to guy in the second unit with Wesley Johnson and Shannon Brown's streaky jump shooting and Morris's issues with consistently finishing. The Suns will need to find that spark off the bench tonight.

The Suns will need their A-game tonight to close out the preseason with a winning record, but the chips are stacked in their favor. The Nuggets are coming off of a late game loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last night, and the fully rested Suns should have plenty of energy plus the advantage of the home crowd to cheer them on.

** Editor's Note **

Suns reserve small forward P.J. Tucker had Lasik surgery on Wednesday and will be sitting out this game while his eyes recover. That means Wesley Johnson will get all the back-up minutes at the three tonight, and Beasley could play full starter's minutes. When asked via Twitter if he'd be ready to go on opening night, Tucker responded "No doubt."

** Editor's Note 2 **

Per Paul Coro, Gentry also said Jermaine O'Neal is banged up an will be sitting out tonight. Coro said it will give the Suns a chance to see Morris at the five.

Jim Coughenour of Bright Side of the Sun previewed the Phoenix Suns' season in video fashion - he predicts the Suns MVP, LVP, X-Factor(s) and win total, as well as the the eventual NBA Champion (hmph!).

PHOENIX — Throughout the Nash era, the Phoenix Suns keeping the roster minimum of 13 players has been only slightly less certain than death and taxes. However, as the team enters a new era...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

15-Man Roster?

On Wednesday, the Suns cut loose big men Ike Diogu and Solomon Jones, trimming the roster down to the maximum allowed of 15. The word out of Suns HQ today is that there won't be any more cuts, at least not before the season starts.

"Unless something unforeseen happens, yes." Lance Blanks on these being the #Suns 15 roster players as of today.

— Kristofer Habbas(@sbn_khabbas) October 25, 2012

The means point guard Diante Garrett and forward Luke Zeller have both made the team, at least for the moment. This is the first time the Suns have kept a max roster since 2005.

The Suns have had their eye on Garrett for a while. They worked him out before the 2011 NBA Draft where he went undrafted, then brought him back to play for the Summer Suns in Las Vegas this year. Garrett played well enough to earn an invite to training camp, and it appears as if he has turned that invitation into a roster spot.

Garrett is the fourth point guard on the Suns' roster, but general manager Lance Blanks doesn't think that is overkill.

"I see it just based on what the needs of the the team are at any given moment of the season," Blanks said. "We need guys to practice, certainly, that would be here or we might not have everyone healthy so you might need some of them to play."

Blanks also mentioned the versatility that the two bigger guards -- Goran Dragic and Garrett -- provide.

"You could play Kendall at the one and Goran off the ball. You could play Bassy at the one and Diante off the ball," Blanks said. "There are a number of scenarios, things you could use with those guys. I don't see them as pure, traditional point guards."

Zeller, on the other hand, has arrived in Phoenix via the NBA D-League. He is a sharp-shooting big man who can replicate some of what they lost with Channing Frye.

It sounds like Garrett and Zeller were the two players who made best use of the player development staff the Suns offered to them, and that likely was a huge factor in them making the team. They showed they wanted to be there and were willing to do whatever they had to to stick around. Finances also likely played into the decision, as the two that made it are NBA rookies an can be paid as such, while the other two big men were considered veterans and would have made more.

What's Next?

It appears as if the Suns are set to begin the season with all 15 players, but that doesn't mean Garrett and Zeller are guaranteed to keep their jobs. Once upon a time Matt Janning made the team after training camp and the preseason, but when the Suns needed to make a move they had to cut him to make room.

Garrett and Zeller are going to have to earn their contract every day in practice and prove to the Suns they are worth keeping around.

Blanks talked about the versatility Garrett provides, but even so he is unlikely to play very much this year. He was signed as a developmental prospect more than for what he can provide the team on the court now. The versatile 6-foot-5 point guard can do a little of everything on the court, but he still has a lot of work to do.

Zeller, on the other hand, appears to be more of an emergency reserve than a player to stash and develop. He has the size to fill in at either frontcourt spot and has at least one NBA skill: shooting the basketball.

Blanks did not rule out the possibility of sending either player to the D-League for some, well, development. In fact, Blanks said he does see value in doing just that, and doesn't believe the players working with another coaching staff would be a problem.

"I'm not overly concerned because we're not telling them what plays to run or the assistant coach to hire, that we won't reap the benefits of them being in the D-League," Blanks said. "Minutes, and being able to play in a system and a situation during the regular season are a lot more significant than us designing the plays that they run."


Per a press release from the Suns, the team has picked up the option on second year power forward Markieff Morris. Morris went through an up-and-down rookie season, but the talent he showed is undeniable and he was the most productive rookie the Suns have had since Amar'e Stoudemire.

The option is for $2.09 million according to Paul Coro, and will keep Morris under contract through the 2013-14 season.

The Suns also will have to make a decision soon on whether or not to pick up the option on Wesley Johnson's contract. The Suns will have to pay him $5.4 if they want to keep him beyond this year, a steep number for what Johnson has done so far in the NBA. Although, the fact that they didn't pick up his option when they did Morris' could mean they have already made their decision.

Various Suns broadcasters talking about the up-coming season.

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