The Cleveland Cavaliers took a “gimme” game away from the Suns when they came to the US Airways Center.
Now it’s time to take that gimme back, as the Suns come into Cleveland to meet a shorthanded, losing Cavs team. But, alas, just as their previous meeting with the team from Cleveland, they can’t take the game in Quicken Loans arena for granted. Not when Kyrie Irving is around.
Kyrie Irving is having one of the best rookie seasons in history. Yes, he of “weakest rookie class in history”, is proving one of the best rookies to come into the NBA. And he’s only 20 years old. In the last game, he burned Steve Nash off the dribble. A lot. Don’t be surprised if Alvin Gentry gives Grant Hill the assignment of guarding the quick rookie.
However, Grant on Kyrie would mean a big problem for Channing Frye, who would have to guard the weirdest scorer in the game today in Antawn Jamison. While Jamison is in no way prolific, he can’t be left open anywhere, which with the Suns team defensive scheme might be a big problem.
Fortunately enough, the Suns won’t have to worry about their opponents offensive rebounding as much this time as Anderson Varejao is out with a broken wrist. Varejao had 17 boards in the last game, abusing the Suns any time Marcin Gortat rotated to stop Irving’s drive. His replacement while energetic, might have a problem against the bigger Gortat. Who is that exactly? Tristan Thompson, Steve Nash’s countryman and rookie PF, playing centre for the Cavs in Varejaos absence. This size advantage between Frye and Gortat is one that the Suns will have to utilize somehow, in the post or otherwise.
The Suns know that every game ahead is a must-win. But winning against a struggling team when other Western teams turned every single playoff seed in the 4-8 range into a bloody free for all is a must. Had they won the gimme in Phoenix, the Suns would’ve been in a much better situation. But without this gimme, they have to get some payback, and they’d do good to get it today.