Preview: Utah Jazz (0-1) at Phoenix Suns (1-0)


Time: 7 :00 pm MST

TV: FSAZ

Jazz

Jazz

Suns

Suns

After Wednesday night’s win, it’s clear the Suns are headed for the #1 seed in the Western Conference and a possible Finals matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Suns look very comfortable at the top of the Western Conference standings. But the playoffs are still a long way away. Tonight Phoenix looks to improve to 2-0 for the first time in four seasons as they host the Utah Jazz. Let’s break down three storylines heading into tonight’s game.

Which Restricted Free Agent-To-Be will look the most worth the money?

The Suns failed to reach terms with Eric Bledsoe before the Halloween deadline. Likewise, the Jazz failed to extend Gordon Hayward. Both players will hit Restricted Free Agency next year, meaning they can seek lucrative offers from other teams and force their current franchises to match or let the player walk away for nothing. If both guys play up to their abilities this season, they’ll both get richer contracts than what their teams were likely offering yesterday. But for Phoenix, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In a league stacked with point guards, any offer Bledsoe gets next season will be closer to his actual value and less inflated than if he were a dominant big man like DeMarcus Cousins or potent wing scorer like Paul George. Eric Bledsoe is not as good as John Wall, and no team is going to offer him what Wall got no matter how well he plays this season. So while it may cost the Suns a bit more money to keep Bledsoe next summer, the front office and coaching staff will get a full year to evaluate him and see what he’s actually worth. The risk mitigation in holding off on his extension far outweighs the added cost of his RFA contract extension.

That said, seeing as Hayward and Bledsoe were the two biggest names not to be extended (sorry Jimmer), I could see Bledsoe playing very hard tonight to show the team how wrong they were not to extend him right away.

How will Miles Plumlee fair against Utah’s pair of highly touted young bigs?

Plumlee busted out with a stellar performance against the Trail Blazers, scoring 18 points, grabbing 15 boards, and blocking 3 shots in 40 minutes of play. He outshined the Suns’ top pick Alex Len, and looked definitively like a viable NBA big man. But his frontcourt opponents tonight – Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors – are also young big men trying to prove themselves. Finally out from the shadows of Big Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, Kanter and Favors are supposed to be the future in Utah. Both have looked good in limited minutes over the past two seasons, but it has not yet been clear if they would be able to maintain their level of play in starting roles. One game into the season, they look pretty good. Kanter and Favors combined for 29 points and 19 rebounds in Wednesday’s narrow loss to the Thunder. It will certainly be a good battle in the paint tonight. Phoenix has to have the slight edge however simply because of their depth. Utah has only rookie giant Rudy Gobert and Marvin Williams (who received a DNP-CD Wednesday night) in reserve whereas the Suns have Alex Len, Channing Frye, and both Morris twins. Markieff returns tonight from his one-game suspension.

Can the Suns keep up their pace?

According to ESPN.com, the Suns’ pace factor last season was 95.9 possessions per game. Shame on me for referencing statistics after one game, but Phoenix is currently at 109.2 possessions per game. Now obviously that mark will regress as the season continues. (Oddly enough, the Suns currently rank 27th in the NBA, meaning every team came out of the gate running like crazy.) But it’s not unthinkable for the Suns to average 100 possessions per game if they continue to run the way Coach Hornacek has said he wants them to. Utah was a plodding team when Jefferson and Millsap were there, but now, they have young legs just like the Suns and will look to push the ball. This should be an up and down track meet tonight.

Tags: Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Preview Utah Jazz

  • NOitall

    I believe Marvin Williams is injured.

  • Foreveris2long

    Keep an eye on Alec Burke for Utah as he is very talented playing the two guard. Should be a fun game to see.

  • Azbballfan

    Hopefully this game wont be blacked out on league pass like the home opener was

    hopefully Plumlee can keep up his stellar play

    i look for Len and Goodwin to get more than 5 minutes and 8 minutes against a tough but young Jazz frontline

    Hopefully Bledsoe comes out ready to send a message to the NBA that he is worth max money, because thats likely what he wanted last night

  • Mel.

    I’m definitely intrigued by Hayward: that kid’s got guts to spare, and the amount of confidence that he shows on a nightly basis is really fascinating to watch.

    He’s like a more athletic Danny Ainge, and it’s going to be interesting to see if he and Favors can actually do something special for Utah in the coming years.

  • Teletovic

    The jerseys for the Suns are despicable and what a shame! Top 3 worst jerseys in the league for sure!

  • john

    @Azbballfan

    The opener was blacked out? Sheesh, I knew Phoenix fans were bad, but the OPENER?!

    @Teletovic

    Totally agreed. I won’t be buying a new Suns jersey until they come up with a better design than the garbage they’re displaying now. Awful design.

    Btw, next up on my list is an old-school Hawk jersey. After that, Walter Davis. The Hawk jersey is relatively easy to find. Walter Davis is a different story.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Phoenix Suns ……..108
    Osmond Family …103

  • RudeCerveza

    I agree with Hawki, +5 sounds just about right… and I absolutely love new jerseys. Finally, I got the chance to express my love for the Suns wearing something tasteful.

  • Harry

    The stats on ESPN are incorrect. Not sure what’s up but they’re wrong.

  • DBreezy

    @John,

    I watched on the POR telecast as I couldn’t get the local feed to work on LP. There were several shots where you could see tons of empty seats.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    @ DBreezy
    You don’t get FSAZ ?

    For my generation …LP = album……lol

  • Ty-Sun

    A lot of the stuff on the ESPN site is often incorrect, Harry. Nothing unusual.

  • DBreezy

    If the score is in the neighborhood of what Hawki says than yes Suns should win by 5, maybe more. Utah may have younger legs, but I don’t think they really want to push the ball. I think they want to do what they’ve always done, which is work their offense and keep the pace moderated.

    If I’m Corbin, I’m circling the Suns 4-19 from the 3pt line, 31 fast break points, and 13 bench points from the POR game. I tell my guys to be patient, work through the offense and get the ball inside for high % shots to limit the Suns fast break opportunities. Pack it in on the other end and see if they can shoot it with a goal of being even or ahead when they go to their bench. Get ahead of them and force them to play catch up and wait for a young team to make mistakes.

    For Hornacek, nothing changes. It’s all about can they keep the pace up and get a good 25-30 points on the break. I think you also have to hope that someone like Frye, Green, Marcus or Goodwin gives you a scoring spark with the second unit.

  • john

    @RudeCerveza

    To each his own. I’m glad someone likes the new jerseys, as the Suns could use all the revenue they can get.

    I have hated all the jerseys from ’92-’93 on, especially the style from the past decade. The original jerseys (like the Hawk wore) and the jerseys with the western font (like Walter wore) were classic though. I don’t know how anyone could view those jerseys negatively.

  • DBreezy

    @Hawki,

    I was in New York. LP had both feeds available but I could never get the Suns one to work.

  • Smovas

    LP = album

    Speaking of LP’s, I landed an record called, it’s a whole new game, or something like that. It’s the Suns season in review for the 69′-70′ season.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    @ Smovas

    1969-70 was a great year for the Suns…won coin flip with Sonics to get Connie Hawkins and made one of the greatest trades of all-time…Gary Gregor for Paul Silas.
    Suns were instantly relevant.

  • Scott

    I’m thinking the Suns have another chance to win a game. They should try to win all the games they can now, because there will be plenty of time to feel the weight of all the losses later in the season.

    I wonder if Kravtsov will get some play time in this game. If so, looking forward to finally seeing him play!

  • vtsunrise

    For what it’s worth, my game by game prognostication had the Suns ending with 26 wins, but staying near .500 through November (8-9), then steadily worse (roughly .333 in Dec-Jan-Feb), and then the wheels fall off in March-April – 5-19, with a 12-game losing streak before they win the last game of the season vs. Sac.

  • Azbballfan

    Yeah, League Pass told me it was blacked out so i dont know

    I heard that Suns season tickets actually sold more this season than last

    whatever the case i dont really care because i feel great about where the team is eventually going

    i expect us to come back to earth, almost every team who got a surprising opening night victory came back to earth the next game

    after this game, we go on the road against OKC, New Orleans and the Spurs

    we were something like 8-33 last year on the road……will it be any better this year?

  • Rory

    Can you explain to me how Phoenix can have 109.2 possessions per game after only one game? Shouldn’t the number of possessions per game be the exact number of possessions in that single game, i.e. a whole number?

  • john

    For one, I’m not seeing the same 109.2 number (I’m seeing something drastically different, like 94.5). Secondly, pace, as Hollinger calculates it, is not a strict “possessions per game” stat. It’s a rate statistic that is weighted across the whole league, with the average being 100.0 (that way the pace of a squad can be factored into a player’s other advanced metrics like PER).

  • john

    I just looked it up because I figured I was wrong about the 100 average thing. Turns out I was. It’s a formula. I’m assuming basketball-reference uses the same formula as Hollinger.

    48 x (Team Possessions + Opponent Possessions) / (2 x Team Minutes Played)

  • EBJM

    Magic were extremely interested in Bledsoe and it isn’t a coincident Jameer Nelson just becsme available. They will come big this summer to pair Bledsoe with Victor Oladipo. Suns better draft well this summer.

  • EBJM

    Wow, did you guys read Markieff’s comments on what a great job defensively Marcus did on Aldridge? Went as far as calling him the best post defender on the team! I guess he wasn’t watching Plumlee.

  • Azbballfan

    Yeah, the twins usually say how great they are

    Marcus Morris said “I am the shooter this team needs” a few times

  • Scott

    They each have employment as the other’s agent. ;)

  • foreveris2long

    I sure wish Philly would read the email that tells them to tank the season. They are not suppose to be beating Washington, a team carrying precious cargo, i.e., our 1st round pick. I also cannot believe Pelicans are getting routed by Magic by about 30.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Caught some of the Kentucky v Transylvania game…yeah, Transylvania
    Anyway…Julius Randle is very impressive…I didn’t know he could handle the ball so well for such a big guy…very tough on the boards…he will definitely go 1 or 2.
    Kentucky is still young & a little sloppy but athletically, they look like an NBA team.

    @ Rory….Good point….sounds like misinformation

  • Ty-Sun

    The Sixers beat the Wiz. The Magic beat the NolaCans by 30. The Bobcats beat the Cavs. And the T-Wolves are up by 20 over the Thunder in the 3rd.

    This season is starting out kind of weird…

  • Scott

    ^^ The “NO-cans?” ;)

  • Andrew

    LOTS of empty seats today even after a very good first game

  • Andrew

    I dont remember watching a worse 3pt% Suns team…

  • Andrew

    Not really a fun game to watch until the very last minutes. I like the fact that the team came from behind and won it without Dragic. Good things are in the horizon for this team.

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