December 26, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) backs into the lane against Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Phoenix Suns(7-13) vs. Los Angeles Clippers(12-6)

March 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) guards Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the first half of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are set to square off against the L.A Clippers on a nice Saturday afternoon at the Staples Center. Heading into today’s game the Suns are currently on a 5-game skid while the Clippers are looking to win their 5th straight game.

The Suns have been one of the worst road teams this season losing 9 of their 11 games on the road. Following Thursday’s defeat against the Dallas Mavericks, Suns head coach Alvin Gentry announced that there will be yet another line-up change and it’s highly likely that Michael Beasley is the odd man out.

It was suspected that either Jared Dudley or P.J Tucker would replace Beasley in the line-up but unfortunately Tucker suffered an MCL sprain in the loss to Dallas on Thursday so if Michael Beasley is going to be pulled from the line-up it’ll probably be Jared Dudley that takes his place.

Heading into today’s game, the Clippers are the favorite by 10.5 points according to The Clippers are currently without Chauncey Billups who returned to the line-up after a season ending Achilles injury last season but he’s out now dealing with a foot injury.

The Suns currently has 3 players listed as day-to-day, Jermaine O’Neal left Thursday night’s game against Dallas after being poked in the eye, Sebastian Telfair is still dealing with family issues but since he played Thursday odds are he’s good to go today, and then there’s Tucker who’s dealing with a strained MCL.

Keys to the game: Suns

– Suck it up and play. Yes these guys have lost their last 5 games, and they haven’t won a game in 11 days. These guys can’t come into the game feeling sorry for themselves and not bringing 110% to the table.

– Get Marcin Gortat going early. This guy has been absent offensively, Gortat has only 14 points in the last two games and scored only 3 points in the Dallas game, the Suns should look to get him the rock early and let him gain some confidence.

– Please for the love of god kill the turnover trend! At this point I just sound like a broken record, the Suns earlier in the season were great at taking care of the rock, but over the last six games the Suns have averaged 16 turnovers per game. They simply can’t afford to do that against Lob City, a couple of dunks from the Griffin named Blake and the roof will get blown off of the Staples Center; that’s the last thing the Suns need.

Mar 17, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) looks to pass while defended by Houston Rockets guard Goran Dragic (3) during the first quarter at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Keys to the game: Clippers

– Hound the passing lanes. These Suns are willing passers but they’re far from efficient passers. The Clippers make exciting plays happen on a nightly basis but they could make a few extra ones off of the Suns recent habit of poor passes today.

– Attack the basket. The Clippers must attack to rim early to open up more opportunities for outside shots later on in the game.

The X-Factor:

– Highlight plays. The Lob City highlight plays completely shifts momentum of the game as those plays pump up the entire crowd and the players.

Match-up of the night!

– Obviously it’s going to be a battle of the point guards all night, Chris Paul aka. CP3 vs. Goran Dragic. Dragic being Steve Nash’s under study and all gets plenty of Steve Nash comparisons but the more I watch him play, it seems to me he plays more like Paul than he does Nash. Both Dragic and Paul love hounding the passing lanes, attacking the basket, and both guys are tough as nails. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying Dragic is Paul that would be completely absurd. Nonetheless this will be a good match-up between the two point guards; the last time Dragic played against the Clippers he put up 11 points and 14 assists.


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