The Suns will finish off their treacherous week with a home date against the Blazers tonight.
If Phoenix can prevent a three-game losing streak with a win in this one, I think the Suns can be satisfied with their week as a whole.
Phoenix has already pounded a Detroit team that’s looked very good and dropped contests to Utah and Los Angeles, but you can’t get too worked up about a 2-2 week against that kind of competition if the Suns come through tonight.
All eyes will be on the Shaq-Oden matchup after the 2007 No. 1 overall pick missed the teams’ earlier meeting.
Oden has averaged 12.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game his past five contests and should provide a presence Shaq won’t be able to just run over.
All along I’ve sided with Kevin Durant in the great Oden-Durant debate of last year. I’m not sure Oden will ever become a super-duper star that a No. 1 overall pick should be, but there’s no question he’s a great defensive player and a force on a team of balanced scorers that Portland features.
The Suns will also get another dose of Rudy Fernandez, the flashy rookie who could throw himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation if he keeps up his hot start. He’s such a good shooter and a tremendous finisher around the rim that he can be a real game-breaker.
But Fernandez’s rookie teammate Jerryd Bayless likely won’t be doing anything unless the game gets out of hand. Bayless, the former UA star who dominated the Arizona high school hoops landscape a few miles from US Airways Center, has been a heralded mop-up player, scoring a single point and playing just 11 minutes since the Blazers last came to town on Nov. 1.
Although the general consensus was that Bayless was ready for the NBA when he left after his freshman year and was selected 11th overall, I can only wonder if he’d be better off with another year of college instead of being stockpiled on Portland’s bench, as his prospects for minutes aren’t great this year with Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez ahead of him.
He’d be the leader of a thin Arizona team, and who knows, maybe he’d stop his ex-teammates from fouling at the end of a tie game.