5 reasons Phoenix Suns fans shouldn't panic

You can't expect Amare Stoudemire to take more shots than he scores points again in this series. (AP Photo/Matt York)

You can't expect Amare Stoudemire to take more shots than he scores points again in this series. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — OK, so this wasn’t what you expected. After the Suns spent the past two and a half months rolling everybody in sight culminating in a 14-2 sprint to the finish, it’s hard to believe that the Suns were the only home team to lose on the NBA’s opening weekend going up against a Portland Trail Blazers team missing its top player.

But remember this: It’s just one game. Instead of wallowing in the misery of a disappointing start to the playoffs, here are five reasons why Suns fans should remain optimistic about their team’s chances in this series.

1.  The efficient Amare Stoudemire

Marcus Camby is a terrific defender, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t expect STAT to record a higher number of shot attempts than points scored again this series as he did in needing 19 shots to score 18 points on Sunday.

Just once all year did he put up more shots than he scored points, an ugly 2-for-15 performance on Nov. 12 at the Lakers before Amare had regained star form from offseason eye surgery. Now he doesn’t even resemble the player he was at that point of the year.

Amare is the efficiency superstar, the guy who scored 44 on 16 shots and 37 on 15 during one week in March. Of course, those efforts were sandwiched between an 18-point effort on 6-for-14 shooting against Camby and Aldridge, a game that ended STAT’s 22-game streak of scoring at least 19 points, but still.

We might not be able to expect a barrage of 30-point games, but it’s safe to say Amare won’t have too many games where he needs 19 shots to get 18 points.

2. Andre Miller isn’t Brandon Roy

If you didn’t know any better, you might not have believed that Portland’s lead guard just underwent knee surgery the way Andre Miller did his best Brandon Roy impression in Game 1.

Miller knifed through the Suns’ defense with ease on his way to 15 fourth-quarter points, and he even looked like Roy in drilling a clutch three-pointer.

But we’re talking about a guy who only once reached the 30-point plateau all season, and at that during a 52-point outburst Jan. 30 at Dallas that followed games of 11, six, seven and two for Miller. On the season, he averaged 14.0 ppg on 44.5 percent shooting from the field and 20.0 percent shooting from three. That about matches his career numbers: 14.5 ppg, 45.9 percent shooting, 20.9 percent from three.

I understand that Miller has a much bigger role with Roy out, but just please remember he’s not going to be Brandon Roy every night

3.  The Suns’ rhythm

The Suns aren’t a running team anymore; they’re a rhythm team. And after playing two of their most rhymically beautiful games of the season to cap the year against Denver and Utah, the Suns never could find their rhythm in Game 1.

Obviously much of the credit has to go to a Portland defense that Suns head coach Alvin Gentry called the best in the league, but you also have to wonder how much Phoenix was affected by the layoff.

The Suns also lost to the Blazers earlier this season without Roy at home after getting four full days off between games. They were out of sync in that one as well.

The good news for Phoenix? Suns-Blazers is the most compressed series of any in the first round, with games every other day up until Game 6. In fact, these two teams played the final Game 1 of opening weekend but they will play the first Game 4 Saturday in Portland.

4.  No more overconfidence

Grant Hill swears it’s not the case, but you couldn’t blame the Suns if they came into the series a bit overconfident.

As much as Gentry talked up the Blazers and spoke of how tough of a series this would be, you have to wonder if the Suns truly believed that after they set the league on fire with their 14-2 finishing kick. You have to believe that as much as Steve Nash spoke of staving it off subconsciously, on some level the Suns might have taken Portland a bit lightly with Brandon Roy out of the lineup.

After Game 1, that will not be the case anymore. The Suns and their fans understand they’re in for a dogfight, and nobody should be wondering whether the Suns would be better off against San Antonio or Dallas in the second round. These Blazers are a tough squad, and if the Suns didn’t know that before the weekend started, they sure do now.

5.  These are the Blazers after all

I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense about the team. What I mean is that every time a rainbow starts to form over Portland, another season-ending injury sends the Blazers back to Gloomsville.

The way this year has gone, Marcus Camby and Andre Miller will collide on the team flight back to Portland and both of their ACLs will pop. It’s just been that kind of a year for the Blazers.

With all this being said, if the Suns lose Game 2, you won’t hear me stopping anybody from panicking.

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire Andre Miller Brandon Roy

  • http://www.tacotime.com Carlton Whitfield

    I like how "Andre Miller isn’t Brandon Roy" made it to the number 2, even though there's no reason to believe that's somehow a good thing for the Suns. Blazers are now 2-0 vs Suns this year without Brandon.

    I think it's time for the Suns to play some defense! By the way, the lack thereof is why they let Frye go.

    Man– too bad Robin Lopez got injured just as the rainbow was forming over Phoenix after missing the playoffs because Amare was out last year– right before the playoffs.

    Phoenix does have rainbows!

  • http://www.tacotime.com Carlton Whitfield

    With Robin Lopez, Suns no longer playoff pushovers.

    Says this article: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/suns/articles/201

    Is the opposite true now?

    Get well soon, Robin!!!

  • Josh

    You said it yourself though, the problem is Miller is going to have a bigger role. Nash can't guard any of the top point guards anymore. Parker and Paul when healthy tear him to pieces and always have huge games.

    This game was no exception when needed Miller could do whatever he wanted.

  • Jose Rodriguez

    Now you guys we were caught off guard and anyone can go two and o against a team without their star seeing it's just TWO games. the Suns don't want to get swpet on the first two games STAT is going to come out hungry and Nash will do what he does best and stack up the assists, he was the leader so expect that, Jared Dudley needs to lets the playoff nerves go down and do what he does best hit the three and make it tough on defense, when that happens we'll roll over them, they aren't that good it's mostly the Suns fault that we lost, but we need to relax and win on our court then go to Portland and show the Fans in portland that we are no joke and we're here to win.

  • TomTom

    The biggest thing missing from this article is both team's benches. The Blazers did not get a good game out of Rudy and Webster, and while the Suns bench kept them in the game early, they didn't have much an impact in the second half.

    STAT, however, had 5 people on him. He's not getting anything if Frye, Nash, and Dudley don't demand more respect by making shots.

  • Pingback: Game 2 Preview: Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns| Valley of the Suns

  • Mangatang

    Game 2, Phoenix 119 – Portland 90.

    What was that about Phoenix having its hands full? I do believe we absolutely dominated you guys on BOTH ends of the floor.

  • JimJim

    Aldridge shot terribly. Webster and Fernandez played terrible. The Blazers are better than you think Phoenix,
    even without Roy.

    Roy’s role in the offense significantly diminished after he returned from his hamstring injury, and Aldridge became the leading shot-taker and shotmaker after the all-star break. Portland already adjusted to life without B-Roy.

    This injury-riddled season has transformed the Blazers into the most mentally tough team in the league, AND they have nothing to lose at this point. A dangerous combo! Phoenix has it hands fuller than it understands.

  • The Z. Man

    Suns are back in that same spot. Need a home win to bounce back after a loss. No team has been better at bouncing back than our Suns!!!! Since Jan. 26, we have bounced back after EACH loss. That is an NBA best!!!!

    THIS is a VERY competitive Suns team. More than any other quality, bouncing back has defined the strength and character of our Suns. Nash, STAT & Hill have been our best leaders in this regard. Suns’ ability to bounce back gives a HUGE jump in the confidence level of our young guys. Gentry had made some good adjustments after out first loss. Decided to defend Miller by taking lazy J-Rich off and guarding him with Hill. Rarely do we need to make an offensive adjustment, but, we find our team in a spot where we need to score MUCH more!!!! Collins gives us ZERO. J-Rich is VERY good when he is hot (but still not trustworthy at the end of a game.) When he is COLD???? Look out Suns!!!! Nash used to have no problem when J-Rich was cold. Nash & STAT just play the pick & roll. Portland has effectively taken this away with their collapsing zone. What happens when J-Rich is cold and can’t beat the zone even when left wide open? Nash must look for another outside shooter who is open.

    Only four guys play with Nash, at one time. STAT and Hill are best when driving and attacking the hoop. Collins is a big ZERO. That means that Nash must HOPE that J-Rich gets warm or shoot himself. THIS is a POOR game plan. Nash MUST have another outside shooter who can be open. Frye would fill that bill nicely, but, ONLY when he is making his shot. What happened in our road loss?
    J-Rich & Frye were BOTH ice cold. Barbosa had the hot hand. Poor coaching meant that the Suns failed to take advantage of his hot hand. Not nearly enough playing time. They should give 40 minutes each game to the Brazilian Blur. He can start at the two (shooting guard) spot and relieve Nash at the point and still run circles around everyone else. Play TINY BALL!!!! Move J-Rich and his up & down game to the three (small forward) spot like the Thunder have done with Durant. Move the not-so-over-the-hill Grant Hill to the four (power forward) spot where he can box out Aldridge. Move Amare to the five (center) spot. STAT will then be in a better spot to “grab them boards”, defending Camby, where he will be closer to the hoop. Mr. Collins can take a seat. Will give up some more points in the paint this way but will be VERY fast!!!! This will lead to playing Suns ball. Our game. More steals, even more boards, and MUCH more scoring from our guys. With THIS line up, we could score 110-140 each game and take Portland out of their game, when we play at our pace.

    MUST start and also finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!