Well, at least we know the Suns won’t get pushed around tonight in New York like they did Monday in Boston because the Knicks will be too busy running to the three-point line to do much banging down low.
This game could be exactly what the doctors ordered for the Suns to get back on track, playing what figures to be a track meet against the Knicks and their not exactly Bostonian defense.
New York ranks 26th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, yielding 107.1 points per 100 possessions.
Their offensive efficiency is surprisingly poor for a Mike D’Antoni-coached team, as the Knicks rank 20th in that category with an average of 102.9 points per 100 possessions, but their overall stats look much better because New York ranks behind only Golden State in pace factor.
You know the Knicks will attack Phoenix’s poor transition defense. That was a point of emphasis for head coach Terry Porter, but as could be seen Monday in Boston, the Suns just don’t get back in transition.
When the Knicks came to Phoenix in December, there was tons of hoopla around the “D’Antoni returns to Phoenix” angle, but this game feels to me like more or less just another game being that this contest is being played in D’Antoni’s new city and not his old one.
Granted, I’m sure D’Antoni wants to win this game more than any other individual contest the rest of the year, but for the Suns this almost just feels like game three of six on the road trip.
Speaking of that trip, there’s still tons of time to salvage it. Including tonight’s contest, three of the final four games are against teams with winning percentages of .400 or worse, so if the Suns can win this one and at least two (if not three) more, then it will be easier to forget what happened in Boston.
One quick prediction for this contest, I think Amare will play a “gorilla game” after getting beaten down by a Boston defense geared to stop him.
Amare has taken a beating here and here and here and of course from yours truly. His rebounding and help-side defense have been issues, but I think his poor play in Boston and resulting criticism is going to bring out that fire tonight that makes you forget ever wanting to give up on him and lament why he doesn’t play like that every night.
Plus, we all know how he thrives in an up-and-down game this is sure to be.