The Memphis Grizzlies has quietly become the top dogs in the western conference, at least record wise. The Phoenix Suns on the other hand are off to rough start in the post-Steve Nash era. The Suns are currently sitting at the 13th spot in the western conference ahead of only the New Orleans Hornets, and the Sacramento Kings.
The Suns will be closing out their 6 game road trip against the Memphis Grizzlies tonight at the Fedex Forum in Memphis. The Suns have lost 3 straight games and 7 of their last 10 games. One of the biggest struggles the Suns are dealing with this season is their inability to win on the road. The Suns own a 2-8 record on the road(5-3 at home) and that’s been their big set-back. Memphis on the other hand have been dominate at home with an 8-1 home record(3rd best in the NBA, best in the west), and that will play a huge factor tonight, anytime you got a bad road team going up against a great home team, it’s not a great match-up 9 out of 10 times for the road squad.
Heading into tonight’s game, Memphis are the heavy favorite by a 10 point margin according to ESPN.com. The Memphis Grizzlies currently has Tony Allen and Rudy Gay listed on the day-to-day injured list. During the Grizzlies Monday practice Allen participated fully while Rudy Gay sat out with back spasms; both guys are likely to play tonight. The Suns have no player on the injured list.
Keys to the game: Suns
- Step it up, somebody! We are all familiar with the fact that it takes a collective team effort to win, however from time to time a single player can carry his team to a victory with a big time performance, and the Suns need that now; they need it desperately. The Suns need one of the 14 players on their roster to have a big game if they want to pull off this upset win against Memphis.
- Take care of the rock! I believe that one of the few things that were keep the Suns afloat earlier this season was the fact that they did a great job protecting the ball and not turning it over. The Suns in their last 4 games have averaged 16.3 turnovers per game which is significantly more compared to earlier this season.
- Neutralize the Memphis big men. Easier said than done but it’s very vital if the Suns want to get this win. There isn’t even a snowball’s chance that the Suns can pull out this win if Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph aka. Z-Bo each goes off and scores 20 points and pull down 10 rebounds, it just isn’t going to happen. It’s not easy to “Neutralize” The Memphis twin towers but it’s been done before and quite frankly the Suns do have a good match-up against Gasol and Randolph, at least on paper.
Keys to the game: Memphis
- There really isn’t much Memphis has to do win this game. Memphis has Phoenix outmatched at just about every position except the point guard position. If Memphis plays their normal game, there is no reason why they shouldn’t win; best team in the west vs. struggling team that lost to the Pistons by 40, you don’t gotta be Einstein to figure this one out. Bottom-line a lot would have to go wrong for Memphis to lose or a lot has to go great for Phoenix in order for Phoenix to win.
- The bench play. The Suns has gotten production from their bench all season long, but not like they did earlier in the season. The Suns starters don’t play as much typical starters as Alvin Gentry likes to juggle the rotation and minutes on a game to game basis, so with that being said, the bench needs to bring 110%, and as good as Memphis is their strength lies in their starting 5 and starting 5 only; the Memphis bench is pretty much the only liability when you talk about Memphis.
Match-up of the night!
- Even though Luis Scola is no longer the starter, the match-up between Zach Randolph vs. Luis Scola will be a fun one to watch regardless. Both guys are so similar in that their strength lies in their skill set, toughness, and basketball IQ and despite not being freak athletes both guys find ways to get it done; granted Randolph is more talented than Scola but nonetheless I expect Scola will play heavy minutes against Memphis because I don’t believe Markieff Morris can defend the post maestro that is Zach Randolph, I don’t think Alvin Gentry does neither.