Suns open 2013 preseason schedule against Maccabi Haifa

Posted by on August 13th, 4:29 pm

The Phoenix Suns released their 2013 preseason schedule, and the most intriguing game might be their first.

The Suns host a Maccabi Haifa squad out of Israel in U.S. Airways Center on Oct. 7. There’s been a bit of roster turnover for Haifa this year after winning the Israeli championship over powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, and American coach Brad Greenberg also has been replaced. The only recognizable name on the roster could be Sherwood Brown, the shooting guard who played for NCAA upstart Florida Gulf Coast last season.

After the opener, the Suns head to the re-branded Moda Center (formerly the Rose Garden) to face the Portland Trail Blazers. Then they play the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Oklahoma City Thunder and finish the preseason Oct. 23 against the Denver Nuggets.

2013 PHOENIX SUNS PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Mon., Oct. 7 vs. Maccabi Bazan Haifa, 7 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 9 at Portland Trail Blazers, 7 p.m.

Sun., Oct. 13 at San Antonio Spurs, 11:30 a.m.

Tue., Oct. 15 vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 7 p.m.

Thu., Oct. 17 at Sacramento Kings, 7 p.m.

Tue., Oct. 22 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 23 at Denver Nuggets, 6 p.m.

All times are Arizona local

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Phoenix Suns News

20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ty-Sun // Aug 13, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I just read that ESPN’s summer forecast predicts that the Suns end up with a 22-60 record this season, second worst in the NBA (Philly is predicted to only win 20).

  • 2 foreveris2long // Aug 13, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    I think the summer forecast is pretty accurate Ty but I think it will be entertaining watching the team endure growing pains to win as a team while letting their individual games evolve. Other than Philly and the Suns, I think only the Bucks have a chance of winning 25 or less games.

  • 3 Kevin Zimmerman // Aug 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Utah will be pretty bad, and it’s a wonder how much better Al Jefferson actually makes Charlotte. But yeah, there’s not as much competition for Wiggins as, say, last year’s outlook if it were applied.

  • 4 Bam // Aug 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Well, the preseason starts off well. It’s quite hard to imagine losing against an Israeli team who just lost its best player to Dallas as a 2nd/3rd string point guard..

    Or they can prepare their worst season in Suns history by proceeding to lose every single pre-season game including against the Israeli team.

    Oh, and i’m so excited to watch games of Suns vs 76′ers next year. I wonder who we’ll see on the court, considering both sides are trying their “best” for the “w”.
    Maybe the coaches would play each other on the court.

  • 5 hawki // Aug 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    I don’t know if I’d put much credence into what the corporate shills over at espn are saying….I think they picked the lakers to win the Title last year….lol

    however….just looked at the 76ers roster….wow, they’ve gone down faster than a Vegas hooker.

    Looks like Suns will have plenty of competition for Lottery positioning.

  • 6 Scott // Aug 13, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I always have a hard time going with the dismal predictions. I think the predictions for last season were only accurate because Gentry gave Beasley major minutes at SF, apparently blind to all the damage this caused.

    Last year Phoenix wound up 21 games out of the playoffs. I think this number could have been cut in half if Beasley never played, and if he’d played only at PF the Suns might have done even better.

    This coming season is hard to predict for many reasons. 1) We don’t know if Frye will play significant minutes, due to both his heart and to his conditioning. 2) We don’t know how well the Dragic / Bledsoe back court will work. 3) There are some unknowns in that we don’t know how well Plumlee, Len, and Goodwin will play.

    If Frye is back and the Dragic/Bledsoe back court is largely discarded in pre-season, the equation becomes a bit easier to figure, and I’d assume the Suns in that case could win more games than they did last season.

    The reasons for that are these:

    1) While Frye is not as good on offense as Scola, he would spread the court.

    2) Gortat might be able to return to the P&R if he plays with Bledsoe, or if Frye’s position in the corner gives Dragic more room to operate.

    3) Marshall would get fewer minutes, as both Bledsoe and Dragic are far better options at PG.

    4) The Suns will play at a faster pace, which ought to favor their athletic personnel in matches against some teams.

    5) With Hornacek at the helm, I expect the Suns to shoot the 3 a lot better. And if an individual wing player is having an off night, there are replacements in line who can potentially fill it up.

    6) Unlike last season, the Suns won’t necessarily HAVE to play Tucker. And if they do play him, he’ll probably be more comfortable with finding ways to contribute on offense, which was often a struggle for him last season.

    7) The Suns should have more options in crunch time, as they have 5 players who can quickly create their own shot (Dragic, Bledsoe, Butler, Goodwin, and Marcus Morris).

    8) Both Dragic and Goodwin can get to the line. The Suns still aren’t real strong in this area, but if Goodwin gets minutes, the Suns could practically double production at the line.

    As for the perimeter shooting …

    Last season Brown shot 6.5% worse from 3 than he has in his career. Marcus Morris lost 8% accuracy off his 3 when he came to Phoenix. Dragic lost 3%. So something was going wrong with the Phoenix offense last year, and presumably it was that there weren’t enough shooters, and defenses keyed in on the few guys who could shoot. Unless things go wrong, that shouldn’t be the case this year. Green is a career 35% 3-pt shooter. Butler shot nearly 39% from 3 last season. If Marcus Morris can return to his scorching 38% shooting, and Frye gives his career 39% shooting, the Suns ought to be fine.

    Other bright spots on the perimeter include: Dragic, who is normally a 35% 3-pt shooter; Bledsoe, who shot 40% from 3 last year (albeit in low volume); and after shooting poorly for most of the season, Markieff Morris shot exceptionally well from 3 in the final month.

  • 7 Scott // Aug 13, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    If Frye is healthy and the players are shooting well, the Suns would be one of the few teams that could put out a lineup where one guy is shooting 35% from 3 and the other guys are shooting 38% and up.

    Playing against an opposing 2nd unit and at a fast pace, a group like that could do some real damage, as the opposing defense would be forced to either leave one shooter open or let the basket be unguarded.

    That perimeter shooting unit would be: Bledsoe, Green, Butler, Marcus Morris, and Frye.

    If that was the 2nd unit, it would seem to dictate a starting unit of Dragic, Goodwin / Brown, Tucker, Markieff Morris, and Gortat. That’s not horrible, and it could turn out that the Dragic – Goodwin pairing is the best combination of guards, due to their ability to get to the line.

  • 8 Sillmarillion // Aug 14, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Scott, in these lineups you play without your 2013 top pick Alex Len. And while I think that this wouldn’t be a problem at all (Frye and Gortat are way better than Len will ever be) I’m quite sure that it won’t happen. Len will be the backup center in this season (unless he stays injured which is also possible).

  • 9 Scott // Aug 14, 2013 at 1:24 am

    @Sillmarillion -

    Well … as you say, it depends on whether the Suns want to win, and if they can win with Len.

    If the Suns want to play Len for a lot of 2nd unit minutes, then their 2nd unit will have to be more conventional.

    Personally, I’m comfortable with bringing Len along slowly, as big men often take a while to develop. Few big men make an impact in their first year in the NBA, especially if they’re young.

    Of course, if the Suns trade Gortat, or if Frye can’t play, then Len would probably get plenty of minutes.

  • 10 DBreezy // Aug 14, 2013 at 1:47 am

    I think the ESPN wins foreceast is pretty fair. They’re predicting -3 wins year over year. Among other things, the team was devoid of veteran leadership last year and that’s only gotten worse with the departures of Scola and O’Neal. I consider Dudley and Butler a wash in that department. Bledsoe seems very similar to Dragic in that he is more of a leader by example than words, and there’s no Gentry around.

    Looking at the roster, the Suns will be leaning very heavily on the Morris twins at the 4 and there’s is little evidence to indicate that will go well. Len and Gortat are injured and no matter how it will eventually will get spun, the fact that Frye has not been medically cleared by now is not good news. Even if he does get cleared, it’s very late in the game to be starting to workout meaning he’ll probably be useless most of the season.

    A Dragic/Bledsoe backcourt is unlikely to move the needle on the Suns poor defensive showing, nor are a bunch of rookies and castoffs. Throw in an uptempo pace and more possession and there will likely be more turnovers from everyone not named Dragic as well. I think the Suns will be more exciting than last years team, but the results won’t show it. -3 W’s as a prediction seem fair.

  • 11 Ty-Sun // Aug 14, 2013 at 4:56 am

    I’m much more concerned about team defense than offense. I hope that Horny really makes defense his priority because the Suns don’t have enough guns to just outscore other teams anymore. If they can significantly improve team D then I think they could be closer to 30 wins this year. A significant increase in D probably won’t happen in just one season but they’ve got to work on D.

  • 12 john // Aug 14, 2013 at 7:21 am

    I’d go +3 rather than -3 in my own prediction for year over year wins. Last year’s Suns team had a number of players with career lows in efficiency (or near career lows) and shooting, and they lost a ton of games that could have gone either way in the final two minutes, but the Suns simply had no one to hit shots in the clutch. I think Dragic will improve in that area, Frye could be back, and Bledsoe might be able to carry some of that load as well, not to mention potentially Goodwin. On last year’s squad, Dragic was literally the only player on the roster who could consistently create a good shot for himself (and I say the word “good” to exclude Shannon Brown from that conversation). I don’t believe that will be the case with that ’13-’14 Suns.

  • 13 Brenton // Aug 14, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Hopefully they dont continue playing Frye at PF, if he is cleared. He is much better playing as a back-up center, where he has real value, rather than a below average starter at PF.

    Of course, with just the Morris boys at PF, and Gortat and Len at center, that makes things complicated.

    Hopefully McDonough can find a taker for Gortat before the season starts, and go with a Frye/Len/Plumlee combo at center, and a Morris/Morris combo at PF. With some combo of Green/Butler/Tucker/Brown/Goodwin/Bledsoe/Dragic rotating in the backcourt.

  • 14 Ty-Sun // Aug 14, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I think Horny is going to do things his way and where someone got most of their minutes previously won’t influence his decisions much. Beasley might even see some time at the 4 especially if Frye isn’t cleared or just isn’t in game shape early on.

  • 15 Scott // Aug 14, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Last season, teams that wanted to beat the Suns needed to beat up on Dragic and clog the paint. We saw that strategy executed most memorably by Minnesota in a late season game where many of their best players were out with injury (Love, Pekovic, and Budinger) and they still won.

    Since the Suns last season weren’t shooting well from outside – they typically only had one outside shooter on court at a time – they struggled most nights. And except for Dragic, the Suns weren’t getting to the line.

    If the Suns want to win, those are all areas where they need to improve. Sure, improving defense and eliminating turnovers is good too. But if you can’t score the ball and you can’t even pressure the defense, you’re fighting uphill all game.

    I’d still like to see someone like Cody Zeller at PF for the Suns, because I think he’s going to be an excellent shooter, he’s fast, he plays with energy, he creates for others, and he can get to the foul line. The Suns need all of that.

    Frye would not be quite as good as Zeller in some of those categories, but he has the shooting touch from 3. If he can play, it makes a big difference for the Suns. If Markieff can dependably hit shots this year, it will be a big help as well.

    To get past last season’s problems, the Suns need a secondary distributor / creator on the court at all times, and they need to hit their outside shots. If they could do that AND get to the line better than before, they could be a borderline playoffs team.

    For those counting wins versus last year, keep in mind that subtracting Beasley and replacing Marshall with Bledsoe – if those things are done – should add to the wins column.

    Also, while exchanging Scola, Dudley, O’Neal, and Haddadi for Frye, Butler, Len, and Plumlee is a loss in terms of PER, in terms of team play it could be a wash.

    @Brenton -

    I agree Frye is best at backup center, but if Gortat is to run P&R it helps to have someone like Frye at PF to spread the floor. If Markieff is shooting well enough to act as a spacer for Gortat, I think it would be wise to put Frye at 2nd unit C.

    And if Gortat is traded, then start Len / Plumlee and keep Frye at 2nd unit C.

  • 16 Ty-Sun // Aug 14, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    The Suns have a lot to fix but defense, rebounding and reducing turnovers need to be priorities. The Suns were 26th in points allowed last season, 22nd in defensive rebounds and 29th(!) in turnovers. Offensive point production was anemic (21st) but I think that might actually go up with just lowering the turnover rate.

    Memphis actually had lower point production than Phoenix but they also were 1st in points allowed and 1st in defensive rebounding. They had a great season mostly because they played under control on offense and played some of the best D in the NBA last season. And they finished dead last in the NBA in 3 point shooting but still had a great season.

    I don’t care how many points the Suns can score per game because they aren’t going anywhere if they can’t stop other teams from scoring too.

  • 17 Scott // Aug 14, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    @Ty-Sun -

    I think cutting or benching Beasley and adding a secondary ballhandler to each unit should reduce the turnovers. Dragic was getting 3 TOs a game, Beasley 2, and everyone else about 1. Bledsoe averaged 2 TOs a game last season with the Clippers.

    How many TOs could the Suns cut? IDK. 2-3? We’ll have to see.

    As for points allowed, if the Suns play faster and are more effective at scoring, this could improve the appearance of their defense, in that opposing teams will have to play harder on defense and will consequently have less energy to expend on offense.

    I think on a lot of occasions last season the reverse was happening to the Suns. They were expending a lot of energy creating offense and getting denied, and then when it was their turn to play defense, they’d get run ragged. Many times the opposing team would focus on Dragic or Beasley, get a TO, and run it down for easy points.

    If we assume Marshall loses minutes to Bledsoe, keep in mind that Bledsoe is better than Marshall at defense, and he averages 1 steal per game more than Marshall.

    So I’m not saying that defense makes no difference. But I don’t see where significant defensive improvements are going to come from, aside from the upgrade from Marshall to Bledsoe. On the other hand, the Suns lost a lot of games last season by a handful of points, and if they were scoring better and easier – in transition, and from the 3 and from the line – they’d lose fewer games.

  • 18 Ty-Sun // Aug 15, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Team defense, Scott, and just plain old commitment to playing tough and consistent D by individuals which was lacking by some last season. That’s how this team can improve defensively. I’m not saying that the Suns can make a huge leap in defensive efficiency but they have to at least put out the effort.

    And players don’t expend so much energy playing offense that they can’t play good defense or vice versa. Once you’re tired, you’re tired on offense and defense… not just one or the other.

    Decreasing turnovers is mostly mental because most turnovers are caused by mental mistakes.

  • 19 Scott // Aug 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

    @Ty-Sun -

    Of course, Beasley hopefully will not be on the court, and his porous defense at SF was, I’m sure, part of the problem. And people were complaining about Wes Johnson never quite seeming to be in the right place on defense, which should also no longer be an issue.

    Hornacek and Longabardi will have a full training camp and pre-season to get the guys in their spots. I expect the smarter players to do well and the knuckleheads to struggle as usual. ;)

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