Preview: Phoenix Suns (6-8) at Cleveland Cavaliers (3-11)

Phoenix Suns 91, Cleveland Cavaliers 78



The Phoenix Suns continue their six-game road trip with a trip to Cleveland to face the lowly Cavaliers, who have lost three in a row and nine of 10 since a 2-2 start.

The Cavs are without star point guard Kyrie Irving, who has missed the past four games with a broken finger. He is expected to miss a month, which is very bad news for a Cleveland team that relies on him so much to score and create for others.

Irving was averaging 22.9 points and 5.6 assists per game and seemed to be on his way to jumping another level on his path to NBA superstardom.

Jeremy Pargo has started in his place, and while he has done a decent job scoring the basketball, that’s still a monumental dropoff.

The Cavs will be eager to avenge their 107-105 loss on Nov. 9 in Phoenix in which Cleveland led 18-2 a couple minutes in and by 26 points early in the second quarter before eventually falling to the Suns. In a season full of double-digit comebacks for Phoenix, it’s hard to think anything will be able to top the run the Suns made to win that game.

Dion Waiters caught fire in that contest, drilling 9-of-13 shots for 23 points. The Suns had few answers for the Syracuse rookie as part of a season in which Waiters has been very hit or miss. He has scored at least 15 points eight times, including the last four games without Irving, but he’s also been held to single digits four times and has suffered through some brutal shooting performances to shoot 37.6 percent for the season.

Anderson Varejao, meanwhile, has been enjoying a career season by averaging 14.0 points and an NBA-best 14.1 rebounds per contest.

The Suns have been a horrid road team thus far with their only away win in six tries coming against a Charlotte team that trailed by 40 at halftime last night in Oklahoma City. But as road games go, they don’t get too much easier than playing a struggling Cleveland team without its franchise player.

This is the kind of game the Suns must win to prevent themselves from getting buried early in the year. They will have already played many of the dregs of the East by the time December rolls around, and at this point it would take a winning streak just to finish the month above .500.

I’m looking forward to seeing once again how Alvin Gentry utilizes his rotations. The new bench has turned in three straight fabulous performances, outscoring opponents by 43.6 points per 100 possessions over the course of 40 minutes the past three games, according to the NBA’s stats tool. In seven games, the current starters are getting outscored by 23.0 per 100.

We are still well in small sample size territory, but that reserve unit’s effectiveness could be a big reason why it took Gentry so long to bring Goran Dragic back into Sunday’s game and why he never brought Marcin Gortat back to finish it out.

I’m also curious to see how Michael Beasley bounces back from his fabulous eight-point final quarter that included a game-clinching missed layup that could have tied things up. Before that ill-fated final attempt, the Sixers just could not stop him. Will we see that guy once again or will it be back to the 5-for-17 Beasley we all know and love so much?

Whatever the combinations are, the Suns need to turn around their road woes, and there’s no better place to do that than in Cleveland against a reeling Cavs team missing Kyrie Irving.

And 1

The Suns’ win over the Blazers last Wednesday was apparently so thrilling that NBA TV has decided to televise the rematch in Portland on Dec. 22. The game will still be shown locally on Fox Sports Arizona as well.

  • Scott

    I’d like to see Beasley follow up his last performance with another one where he scores efficiently. I don’t need to see him with the ball in his hands at the ends of games right now … just scoring when he can, passing when he doesn’t have the shot, and getting to the FT line. Being efficient on offense.

    If Beasley could conform to this bottom line type behavior for a few games, and let it become his normal behavior, it would help. Then he could start working on something else.

  • Ty-Sun

    Like many other fans I hate the direction this season is headed. There are some bright spots but way too few.

    After playing around with the ESPN trade machine I can’t see any potential trades that other teams would go for that might actually help the Suns this season. A lot of people talk about trading Gortat but so far I can’t find another team that actually needs him that has any players worth trading him for. Plus, even though O’Neal has played very well I don’t hink he could make it through the season playing starter’s minutes which would leave the Suns with a very big hole in the middle. Scola can’t be traded this year and although Morris shows promise since moving into the starting lineup I wouldn’t want to trade him unless someone made the Suns a stupid offer for him. Dragic is the only other player we have with real trade value and that’s just not going to happen.

    In short, I think we’re pretty much stuck with this team this year or any possible trades won’t actually help this season. The one thing that the FO could do this season to help in the future is to try to make a trade that, although it won’t help this season, would take into account the potential strengths in next year’s draft. What we really need is scoring from the 2 and/or 3 spot. If the draft is going to be strong in those positions, no problem. But if it’s going to be strong in 4′s and 5′s then trading Gortat and/or Morris for better players at the 2 and/or 3 spots makes sense this season even if it creates holes at either spot for the rest of the season.

    I know the Suns have drafted poorly over the past few years but it just looks like this team is going to have to try to improve through the draft instead of trades. Either that or just trust in luck.

  • Matt

    Ty-Sun I do agree with you but there are some trades that could be made.

    1. Wesley Johnson kendall marshall Lakers 1st round pick or suns top 9 protected and a lakers 2nd for tyreke evans.
    2. Luis Scola(if tradeable) or jared dudley and a top 8 protected pick for derrick Williams

  • Matt
  • Matt
  • Melon Man

    I can’t imagine that the Kings would trade Evans for another point guard. They’ve already got 3. What’s the point?

    While I’m just a regular fan with no real knowledge of trades, scouting, salaries and all that jazz, I just don’t see how that could ever work. But heck, if they’d do it I’m game.

  • Matt

    i Cant see the suns doing both these trades so they could trade dudley for evans

  • Voqar

    I wouldn’t mind seeing williams in a suns uniform.

    I don’t like evans game or attitude and wouldn’t want him on our team.

  • Matt

    take out telfair and honeycutt

  • Matt

    Williams and morris would be a great combo at pf they can shoot and give gortat space in the middle.

  • cdubb

    Williams has sucked so far in his career… loved him at UA but his game has not transferred well.

  • Matt

    He still has great potential and we could have a great young pf roation then pick up a sg in free agency.

  • Matt

    He still has great potential and we could have 2 young pf. We could sign a top sg in free agency

  • Matt

    Hes averaging 10 5 and 1 block

  • JC

    Jermaine O’Neal should teach Gortat a little about how to play defense. Gortat’s mouth is writing checks his performances are unable to cash. O’Neal has been a great addition, hope he can stay healthy through the season.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    I agree with you, JC. I wasn’t expecting much out of O’Neal, but he has played very well. At least we have the best medical staff in the league, so he has a chance to stay healthy.

  • bill.thomas

    @Matt: Why are you giving the Kings 4 separate items of value
    for 1 single item of value who/which becomes, I believe, an unrestricted free-agent next Summer?