Jan 18, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert (21) looks to pass during the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden. Phoenix won 91- 88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Game Preview: Phoenix Suns(7-10) vs. New York Knicks(11-4)

Jan 18, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Amare Stoudemire (1) defends Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Phoenix won 91- 88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Suns will play the 5th game of their 6 game road trip this afternoon in New York against the New York Knickerbockers. The Suns have lost their last 2 games but ironically they’ve won two straight against New York in Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks have been shockingly good this season, so good in fact the talks about the Knicks being championship contenders began swirling once again. The Knicks are 6-0 are home this season and are 11-4 on the season despite being without Amar’e Stoudemire.

Heading into today’s game the Knicks are the favorite by a vast 10.5 points according to ESPN.com but the Knicks will be without Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert is still recovering from an ACL injury from the playoffs last season, Jason Kidd is listed as day-to-day along with swingman Ronnie Brewer; the Suns are injury free.

Keys to the game: Suns

– Defend the 3-point line. The Suns 3-point defense is as bad as the New York Jets were against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving(Had to get that shot in). Opposing teams shoot a blistering 44% on 3-pointers when they play against the Suns and the Knicks are number 1 in the league this season in 3-pointers made per game(11.7) and 3-pointers on an average of 42%, if the Suns atrocious 3-point defense continue against New York, it’s going to be a long, long game.

– Contain Carmelo Anthony. The Suns can’t afford to have Anthony catch fire because if he does it opens up everything for this Knicks team. Containing Melo, easier said than done but if the Suns hope to snap their 2-game losing streak, their going to have to.

– Play disciplined basketball, meaning no bad shots(We’re looking at you Mr. Beasley), and take care of the basketball. The Suns have been great with the ball this season ranking 5th in the NBA this season in terms of not turning the ball over however in their last 3 games the Suns have averaged 16 turnovers a game on average, that trend needs to stop.

Keys to the game: Knicks

– Feed the beast as in feed Carmelo Anthony. The Phoenix Suns doesn’t have anyone on their roster that can guard him, maybe P.J Tucker but hardly. Get Melo going, and everything else will open up.

– Play 48 minutes. This Phoenix Suns team have been resilient all season  long, their never die attitude has won them a several games that seemed out of reach. The Knicks cannot the foot off the gas peddle if they build a nice lead because this Suns team will sneak up on you without you even knowing it.

Nov. 17, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley (0) dribbles the ball up the court during the game against the Miami Heat in the second half at US Airways Center. The Heat defeated the Suns 97-88. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

The X-Factor:

– The big game factor. Big game as in a player goes out on the court and has himself a big game, the Suns haven’t really gotten that this season. In fact not one Suns player has had a 30-point game this season, and that’s been a big issue. The Suns signed Michael Beasley for those type of games but Beasley has yet to deliver however with Beasley’s steady offensive improvement in the last few games maybe he finally has his breakout game today against New York.


Match-up of the night:

– I’m going to focus on the small forwards, Carmelo Anthony and Michael Beasley. With Stoudemire out, Anthony has been playing the power forward position and Alvin Gentry could perhaps tweak his starting line-up a bit to create better match-ups. It’s going to be a good match-up to watch for assuming Beasley will bring it 100%, Beasley has shown flashes of Carmelo Anthony like greatness, except Carmelo Anthony brings it every game, Beasley on the other hand brings it once a month, if that.



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Tags: Michael Beasley NBA New York Knicks Phoenix Suns

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