PHOENIX — If there’s one game the Phoenix Suns can use to right their sinking ship, it’s tonight’s matchup with the NBA bottom-feeder Cleveland Cavaliers.
But then again, that’s what we thought about the Clippers game, the Sixers game, and the Kings game.
At this point it really doesn’t matter who the Suns play, as they have no identity offensively or defensively and it’s showed to the tune of a 21.2 winning percentage over their last 14 games (3-11). They’ve used 11 different starting lineups in 34 games and as Steve Nash said, the Suns are “on that slippery slope where you can get in a dark hole.”
Phoenix needs to climb its way out of that hole before all hopes of playing into late-April go out the window only a third of the way through the season.
“The NBA is not one of those games where you can go, ‘We’re not feeling good about ourselves so can we take a week off?,’” said head coach Alvin Gentry after the Knicks loss. “One day from today and we’ll have to line it up and we’ll have to try to get out and do a hell of a lot better than we did tonight. That’s the bottom line.”
Even though the Cavs are mired in a nine-game losing streak while sitting at the bottom of the NBA standings (8-28), the Suns haven’t been much better lately.
The defense and rebounding problems were clear in December as well, with the Suns surrendering the same porous number of points and the same high field goal percentage throughout the month, while ranking 27th in rebound percentage. It’s the offensive woes that are new to the Suns.
They’re averaging 93.0 points per game over their last four, and they have scored under 100 points in all of them, which hasn’t happened since December of 2005. There is no flow in the Suns’ offense and it’s resulting in contested jump shots. Against the Knicks, 46 of their 82 shots came outside of 16 feet, according to Hoopdata.com.
When you’re only knocking down 15 of those deep jumpers, it’s going to be a long night. The Suns need to find a lineup that works, stick with it and get some sort of rhythm offensively, while improving on the boards and defensively.
So basically, the Suns need to play drastically better in every aspect of the game, while playing with more intensity and fight than they’ve showed over their last nine games (2-7).
“I think of lot of it is just that spirit,” said Grant Hill. “We’re getting a little defeated and a little deflated. That’s where we are. How do we get out of that? Maybe it’s getting a win.”
Luckily for the Suns, the NBA’s worst team is in town to offer some relief. The Cavs are allowing 108.5 points per game over their last six games, and will be without Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao due to injury.
Antawn Jamison is posting 25.0 points per game over his last five, but the Cavs have won only won three games on the road this season and have few options outside of Jamison. Phoenix needs a win move than ever to start chopping away at that “black hole” they’ve dug for themselves.