Preview: Phoenix Suns (7-10) at New York Knicks (11-4)

Posted by on December 2nd, 2:29 am

New York Knicks 106, Phoenix Suns 99

Suns

Knicks

The Phoenix Suns have been embarrassed by 40 points against a team that started 0-8 and have dropped a nail biter to a squad that had lost six in a row and been known to choke such games away in the early going.

Now they must travel to New York for an early 10 a.m. MST tip time to face a Knicks team that leads the NBA in offensive efficiency and sits just a half game behind Miami for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

On the same afternoon that the Arizona Cardinals visit the New York Jets, the Suns will face New York’s basketball team at an unorthodox time for them. Much research has been done about how teams are at a major disadvantage when playing at a strange time in their time zone in the NFL, and that could be even more the case since the Suns rarely play afternoon games, not to mention early ones.

However, the Suns often practice at 10 a.m. Arizona time when they are at home, so their body clocks will at least be pretty accustomed to competing at this time in contrast to East Coast NFL teams playing 9 p.m. Monday Night Football games.

The Knicks would be big trouble for the Suns even with a normal 7 p.m. MST tip because of their offense that’s scoring 110.9 points per 100 possessions. With Amare Stoudemire yet to play a game this season, the key to New York’s offensive success involves Carmelo Anthony thriving as a power forward.

Carmelo plays the four in New York’s four most-used lineups, according to the NBA’s stats tool, in which the Knicks score 124.6 points per 100 possessions (in 140 minutes), 126.6 (in 75), 111.1 and 111.9. Clearly Carmelo is a nightmare matchup at the power forward position offensively, and with Tyson Chandler locking down the interior in all four of those lineups, the Knicks have been at least passable defensively in three of them and very good in one of them.

Presumably Markieff Morris will start out on Carmelo, and I don’t see that matchup going well for the Suns. But neither would starting Beasley on him, and a Scola-Carmelo pairing would be a disaster waiting to happen for the Suns on the defensive end. The Sun who figures to best neutralize Anthony is P.J. Tucker so perhaps the Suns should go small at times and play Tucker as their four to try to match the strengths of the Knicks.

For the season, Carmelo is averaging 26.1 points per game, third-best in the Association, and he’s doing it on 46.9 percent shooting, the best he’s shot since 2007-08.

I look forward to seeing how the Knicks integrate our old friend Amare when he’s healthy around Christmas time. It makes all the sense in the world for him to come off the bench, an idea he is reportedly open to. Since both are roll men, Amare is a poor frontcourt offensive fit with Chandler (96.7 offensive rating last year). Since Anthony is better as a four, that doesn’t leave a place for Amare in the starting lineup, and last year they weren’t exactly dynamic in tandem (99.1 offensive rating when both shared the floor, not what you’d expect from a so-called star offensive combo).

Kind of like Luis Scola for the Suns, Amare could anchor the Knicks’ bench and be the go-to scorer when Anthony/Chandler rest. As much sense as that seems to make to me, egos and all the drama of a big city like New York could complicate things.

Meanwhile, the Suns just need an upset in one of these next two games to at least salvage something positive from this road trip. Sitting at 1-3 against soft competition to begin the trip and with the 11-4 Knicks and 12-2 Grizzlies in their way, it looks like this roadie will be the first major step on their path to the lottery after a respectable 6-7 start to the season.

And 1

There is still time for you to enter our giveaway for two tickets to Thursday’s Suns-Mavericks tilt. To enter all you need to do is guess the score of today’s Suns-Knicks game in the comments section of the aforementioned post before tipoff. I am not eligible to win, but I’ll guess just for fun: Knicks 113, Suns 101.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: New York Knicks · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Preview

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dan Smith // Dec 2, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Knicks…148
    Suns…28

  • 2 bill.thomas // Dec 2, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Gentry’s rotations overwhelm me with their ineptitude. If this pattern can be avoided for 1 day, maybe we will keep it within 10 points. Felton is a paper tiger and we should find ways to attack and neutralize Kidd. Need to throw 3 players–Beasley, Tucker and Dudley–at Carmelo defensively and take him out of his game.

    No one else on their team can really step up, so long as we have a fast guy(Garrett ??) stick like glue to JR Smith at all times.

    And no corner 3 gifts to Novak like we gave to Pietrus. Sure, Mike is a friend, but was it worth losing the game over?

    If Mr. Softie can play decent, we may have a chance. If he can play great, we might even win.

  • 3 bill.thomas // Dec 2, 2012 at 5:03 am

    A few more easy missed lay-ins for Mr. Softie, and that cuts his expected post-Suns salary by $750K-$1M per year. Keep it up with the softness, Mr. Charmin Ultra !!!!!

  • 4 shazam // Dec 2, 2012 at 5:57 am

    i dont think gortat has a male body part…she just dresses in mens clothing…does a good job..fooled me for a season but then i noticed she doesnt have an adams apple

  • 5 Yohance // Dec 2, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Knicks 117
    Suns 103

  • 6 kris // Dec 2, 2012 at 6:29 am

    C’mon guys, don’t be so harsh on these players. Do you really think that all that garbage talk is gonna help anything? when someone is struggling you don’t kick them while down. Sure we all have our beef when the team we like/love isn’t doing so hot but as a diehard Suns fan i say show your support now more than ever. If your 10 year old bring home a sub par report card, you wouldn’t turn around and tell them, ” you’re worthless, you don’t have a smart bone in your body.”, would you….? keep it classy people. #gosuns

  • 7 kris // Dec 2, 2012 at 6:31 am

    If i may also add(overriding my Twitter score guess)
    Knicks 107
    Suns 93

  • 8 kris // Dec 2, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Go Suns!

  • 9 DanC133 // Dec 2, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I agree with the sentiment stop kickin them when they are down. I would like to see them start beas at the 4 and tucker at the 3 but let tucker guard anthony. I think PJ would get physical with anthony and Beas might just get some attitude and play well. He has the skills I just don’t see that killer instinct in him. He’s just too nice. As much as I wouldn’t want him hurt I’d like to see how he played if somebody popped him in the mouth and he got mad. He passes well on drives if someone slides over to help on him and Chandler is notorious for that. I don’t know that anybody really slows Melo down but I think PJ is strong enough to frustrate him some for stretches. Doing this could also open up Dragic for some spot ups after a Beasley drive and kick. Just some thoughts I came up with after comparing lineups.

    On another side note all this heat on Gentry and his coaching, I believe and equal amount of grief should be brought down on the head of our defensive coach Turner. After 20% of the season and he hasn’t improved the defense against the long ball? That is pretty piss poor in my estimation.

  • 10 JR // Dec 2, 2012 at 8:37 am

    @kris: no, they’re right gortat is soft and collapse under stronger opponent, beasley is a stoner and disappointment, dudley can’t be even a bench leader, brown is a ball hog, dragic can’t finish games, telfair can’t create for others, scola o’neal old, this whole team sucks.. nuff said

    Knicks 112
    Suns 93

  • 11 Victor // Dec 2, 2012 at 9:25 am

    If we are gonna suck this season, might as well give our players the opportunity to learn how to play.. Why Put marhsall on D-league??? Since our season is already compromised, we shouldve given marshall the opportunity to learn from the best (not dleague trash players).imagine marshall playing rondo or cp3??? I know he would get dominated, but he would learn…. It should be a no pressure / learning season.. One in which WJ can also learn more.. Beas can learn more.. Garret along with them..

    And please trade Gortat!!!!! He threw his team under the bus.. If we r goin to tank, tank without him.. Bcuz if we do pick up a goos player on the draft, i want him nowhere near this team..

  • 12 Ty-Sun // Dec 2, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Why put Marshal in the D-league? Because we want him to at least have the chance to taste victory instead of defeat. In the D-league he at least has the chance to excel and gain some confidence and experience. Rondo or CP3 would eat him alive right now.

  • 13 Scott // Dec 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    The Suns should have had a good chance against the Knicks as they matched up well against the players the Knicks had available. Unfortunately, Gentry played the wrong match-ups and let the team dig a hole before making adjustments.

    While I know he’s amiable, Gentry needs to push back against Blanks and not start Beasley. Blanks has not done a good job, and he ought to be terminated ASAP, before he has a chance to screw up the midseason trades, so Gentry can have an honest chance at retaining his job.

    Anyway, it was amusing to see Brown, one of the smallest Suns, staying on his feet and scoring down low against Chandler. :)

  • 14 Scott // Dec 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    @DanC -

    I don’t know if it’s fair to pile blame upon Turner for the defensive woes. A significant amount of the defensive problems come from the players the Suns have available (selected by Blanks) and which ones Gentry puts on the floor.

    If Turner was head coach, I think the Suns would put out better defensive groupings.

    FWIW, if the Suns do can Gentry, I would be interested to see how Turner or even Gaines would do as an interim coach.

  • 15 Scott // Dec 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Also, if the Suns are going to start their best players, they should start the combo of Telfair and Dragic, stagger the substitutions at the guard spots, and be ready to use Garrett for a few minutes each game when there’s foul trouble or neither starting guard is at PG.

    Starters: Telfair, Dragic, Dudley, Morris, Gortat.

    2nd unit: Garrett, Brown, Tucker or Johnson, Beasley, Scola

    If healthy, O’Neal can play against centers that are beating Gortat.

  • 16 Tony // Dec 2, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    @Scott,

    Gentry is in such an unnecessarily difficult position because of the Suns FO. We all know the Suns are rebuilding, rebuilding to be what I have no idea, but they are in that mode. However, Gentry is in effect a lame-duck coach, trying to do his best to secure himself another headcoaching opportunity, whether in Phoenix or elsewhere. So because the FO did not offer him an extension, Gentry is in the intenable position of trying to coach to win while also trying to develop players like Beasley, for down the road. It’s once again poor decision-making by the FO. It is only natural for Gentry to sacrafice the team’s long-term hopes in favor of winning just a few more games, even though these wins won’t amount to anything. Yet, the FO no doubt wants Gentry to play Beasley, as he is supposedly the Suns player with the most potential.

    As far as the Suns matching up well with the Knicks, I don’t see how you came to that conclusion. Although the score was close at the end, the Knicks didn’t play with maximum effort and coasted throughout much of the game. There was never any doubt the Knicks would win, so again, I think you’re reading too much into the final score.

  • 17 Fan in Chi Town // Dec 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    There’s no way Gentry gets a head coaching job after this trainwreck of a season.. his best case scenario is after he leaves Phoenix, D’Antoni will hire him to be an assistant in L.A. to do what, I’m not exactly sure because I don’t even know what he did when he was an assistant in phoenix (still not much different). Then they can all win a ring together. Probably Amare too

  • 18 Scott // Dec 2, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    @Tony -

    I’m sure the “brain trust” spoke to Gentry to find out what the team’s needs were and what players Gentry thought would work in the system.

    Gentry said he wanted Beasley because he was a guy his players found hard to defend. Gentry wanted Telfair, because he liked Telfair’s toughness. I don’t know if Gentry wanted Johnson, but it seemed clear he wanted the FO to get rid of Warrick and Lopez.

    Gentry may be coaching for another contract, but you can’t tell that from what he’s doing. It looks more like he’s trying to get the Suns a top lottery pick.

    You know I’ve been against Blanks from the start, from when he was just a candidate for the position. I’m willing to give anyone a chance, and I’ve been open minded about him, but I think my initial take on him was the correct one.

    Same with Beasley. As I’ve said, Beasley should come off the bench till he is playing well enough on a consistent basis to start.

  • 19 kris // Dec 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    @Scott, absolutely! make him earn it like Dudley did last year. just like brown has this year! forget all the b.s., this shouldn’t be about coaching for a contract or a lottery pick. nobody is gonna gain confidence or improve on their skill set like this. i just wanna see our players play as well as i know they can. coach gentry is better than this.

  • 20 Scott // Dec 2, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks!. :)

    BTW, I don’t buy the idea that Gentry is playing Beasley because the FO wants him to. The FO wants the team to win so they can sell seats, get TV time, and get playoffs money, and they want Gentry to do whatever he needs to do to produce wins.

    I believe the FO went out and got Beasley with Gentry’s approval, and Gentry’s been starting Beasley because he’s trying to justify his own decision.

  • 21 Tony // Dec 3, 2012 at 12:14 am

    @Scott,

    do you have any proof that Gentry was behind the Beasley signing? You really believe Blanks and Babby weren’t the ones who initiated the signing of Beasley? You act as if Gentry has a great deal of influence with the roster, yet there’s nothing to indicate Gentry does have much influence. In fact, if anything, it’s abundantly clear he has very little influence with the FO. For example, the FO brought in Turner for defense, but it wasn’t Gentry who wanted Turner. Gentry wanted Grant Hill back, yet the FO didn’t offer Hill a reasonable contract offer but instead low-balled him. So please, unless you have some insider knowledge that hasn’t gone public, don’t make stuff up.

  • 22 Scott // Dec 3, 2012 at 8:29 am

    @Tony -

    How about you prove that Gentry, the team’s coach, had no influence on who was picked for the team?

    What I hear from the Suns is always “Lon, Lance, Robert, and Alvin,” not just the first three.

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