Preview: Phoenix Suns (3-1) vs. San Antonio Spurs (3-1)

Posted by on November 6th, 10:00 am

Time: 6:30 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

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Suns

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Spurs

A healthy rebound from the Phoenix Suns’ first loss of the year came against a New Orleans Pelicans squad that, like a relatively talented team in the Denver Nuggets, isn’t playing up to its expectations. Speaking of, the Nuggets fell to 0-3 at the hands of San Antonio on Tuesday, and that means the young legs of the Suns will face an older Spurs squad that’s also on the second night of a back-to-back.

Will it matter?

The Spurs’ model is one Jeff Hornacek’s Suns are following, or so it appears. Ball movement, floor spacing and relying upon the point guard when it comes to crunch time is the plan for both San Antonio and Phoenix. Eric Bledsoe is coming off another huge fourth quarter for the Suns while Tony Parker will surely threaten to do the same for the Spurs. Goran Dragic appears unlikely to play in the second game in a row while his sprained ankle recovers.

Just how good is Eric Bledsoe on defense?

I don’t personally buy into the steals category being that significant other than to measure instincts. Bledsoe has earned the perception of being a defensive specialist, but there are question marks about his game. It’s not just about a steal here or there, but about disrupting the offense at the point of attack. It’s about being focused on every play.

There are times Bledsoe floats, especially on help defense. A late Eric Gordon three on Tuesday was part mix-up with Gerald Green about who was guarding who and part who was boxing out who. But on the play, Bledsoe didn’t show any effort in making a run at Gordon when an offensive board by New Orleans ended up in Gordon’s hands.

If we’re to keep it simple, Bledsoe should at least be able to do a better job fighting over screens, especially against the slippery Parker. Bledsoe matched up decently against the rusty Russell Westbrook and the still young Jrue Holiday, but Parker is a whole other animal.

What pans out with backup point guard spots?

It wasn’t just that Suns backup point guard Ish Smith’s behind-the-back pass against the Pelicans was good enough for the second slot on SportsCenter’s Top-10. It’s that he recorded eight assists by doing much of what Parker does. Smith’s prodding of the defense opened up easy backcuts for his teammates, and arguably his play was just as important for a bench unit that got 33 combined points from Markieff and Marcus Morris.

San Antonio has been giving Patty Mills the playing time behind Parker and his aggressive on-ball defense should be an interesting challenge for the undersized Smith. It would be good for the Suns to find a change-up option at point behind Bledsoe, who finished strongly for the third straight game but not after a sluggish start. Smith looks like a solid fit so far.

Can Miles Plumlee score big against a solid gameplan?

After two games, Suns center Miles Plumlee hit a bit of a wall against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Part of it was the Thunder being half-conscious about his two double-doubles to begin the year. It also didn’t help that Plumlee picked up two fouls in the first six minutes, which might have caused some apprehension on his part.

Plumlee came back with with a 10-point outing against the Pelicans on Tuesday, but Wednesday’s game should give a good hint of how well he can do against a team with experienced bigs and, likely, a plan to prohibit him from rolling hard to the basket. If Plumlee is to find success, it’ll probably have something to do with his quickness and athleticism handing him the advantage against Tiago Splitter. On the other side of things, how he handles Splitter defensively will be interesting in itself.

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 Preview · San Antonio Spurs

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Richie // Nov 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I have a question for whoever wants to answer. Do you really think the Suns will have a “failed” season if they don’t land Wiggins , Randle or parker ? Even gordon ? Lets say the suns get the 12 seed or even maybe MAYBE sneak in the playoffs , its still not bad. Still have maybe 4 picks that can get maybe a Glenn Robinson or a Brandon Ashley , Kaleb Tarzcswcki.. I think the suns will be fine if they don’t get a top 10 pick.

  • 2 Al // Nov 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    If you compare this Suns team to the Rockets teams of a few years back, they look pretty similar. The team will play well during the season, but does not have enough firepower to contend. Bledsoe is playing like the Sun’s version of Aaron Brooks or Kyle Lowry. However, the Sun’s bigs have potential of becoming good players. Plumlee can develop into the next David Lee. Also, Len when he becomes healthy may be able to become a poor man’s Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan. Suns will need to make up their mind to tank and get a high draft pick or become a team stuck in the middle. Third option would be to trade for an up and coming wing player WITH size…

  • 3 Ty-Sun // Nov 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    @Richie – Or as I said in a previous post, it’s possible that the Suns could bundle 2 or even 3 of their picks (or picks and players) to move up in the draft if they feel the need to do so.

    Even if something like that doesn’t happen, this won’t be a failed season if the Suns don’t get a top 3 draft pick. This draft is loaded and unless Minnesota has another rash of injuries, the Suns should have at least 3 1st round picks this year (everyone should hope that Nene gets and stays healthy and Washington rebounds so that the Suns get 4). If the Suns can continue to play well throughout the season, then they are better than anyone expected and landing Wiggins, Randle or Parker isn’t a necessity. If the 1st 4 games are just a fluke, then the Suns will drift toward the bottom of the rankings as the season progresses and will have a good shot at one of the top 3 picks.

  • 4 GoSuns // Nov 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    This reminds me of what MJ said. You cannot tank as organization and hope to build a winning culture. Yes, there are many possible starts in this upcoming draft but you should plan and cater to a guy that is not on your team yet. You have to dedicate yourself and mission to the guys you do have and if that means that ready to somewhat compete, then you somewhat compete and try to find creative ways to gain quality talent outside of just land a top pick.

  • 5 GoSuns // Nov 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    should not*

  • 6 GoSuns // Nov 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    This reminds me of what MJ said. You cannot tank as organization and hope to build a winning culture. Yes, there are many possible stars in this upcoming draft but you should not plan and cater to a guy that is not on your team yet. You have to dedicate yourself and mission to the guys you do have and if that means they’re somewhat ready to compete, then you somewhat compete and try to find creative ways to gain quality talent outside of just land a top pick.

  • 7 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Sorry GoSuns but I like the Spurs model. Sit David Robinson and Sean Elliot to ensure the most ping pong balls and land Tim Duncan and then win four titles.

  • 8 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    “Also, Len when he becomes healthy may be able to become a poor man’s Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan.”

    Butler, is that you?

  • 9 Mel. // Nov 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    @Richie: If we do somehow manage to keep the “dark horse” thing going to a degree that those picks are no longer within reach AND somehow manage to let Bledsoe walk… then I’ll be pretty damn knackered.

    But if he continues to do what he’s been doing, I feel like it puts us in a much better spot to “go down fighting,” in regards to the season Even if that twelfth seed is contested or we miss the playoffs, it bodes a lot better for the team’s future prospects to be seen as a punchy underdog with room to grow than another “black hole walking”-level franchise with one or two promising players and more picks than they know what to do with.

    It’s sort of that wire-thin division that’s splitting perceptions of Phoenix from perceptions of Utah, right now: two teams in the exact same straits, separated by a couple wins, but one seen as being an exciting/competitive entity, rather than one that’s floundering. The comparison to the Rockets couldn’t be more spot-on, and–in this case–it’s a hell of a lot more appetizing than the alternative.

  • 10 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Tonight’s game is a preview of the WCFs!

  • 11 GoSuns // Nov 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    EBJM, but they knew what they had with those guys, Bledsoe has shown flashes but we still don’t know exactly what were gonna get with him or if he even wants to stay

  • 12 BUTLER // Nov 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    EBJM – Naw that weren’t me, I haven’t yet formed an opinion on Len.

    GOODWIN STEAL AND DUNK OFF DUNCAN!

    The SUNS are blasting the spurs in the 2nd quarter. Horn Attack has the entire team playing like their jobs depend on it.

    McDonough got rid of the playas I wanted gone – Brown, B-Ezy, Gortat, Marshall. And he’s brought in a coach and playas who all seem desperate to prove themselves.

  • 13 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Suns just don’t seem to be listening that they are supposed to be the worst team in the league.

  • 14 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    The Morri with 34 and 16?

  • 15 dave:f32 // Nov 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    @EBJM: I think its a bit of a stretch to start comparing Alex Len to KG or Timmy!?! What? Even if you happened to cover ur logic with the “poor man`s” disclaimer, it doesnt make sense either way…

    This is just responding to sm comments i have read that inspired my rant:

    1. KG was an all-american mcdonalds h.s. Player of the year that was so good, he went straight to the NBA. Tim Duncan, upon entering El League, was an accomplished college player, and touted. Neither of these players was injured coming into the league. Len had one? decent yr and some writers followed suit and hyped him way up into a #5 pick, as an injured player!!!

    2. Mike Conley and Greg Monroe should not be compared to one another, like bananas to oranges..

    3. Greg Monroe?! Reaaally now. More hype, this time by fans. If their was one player out there to wrong the right of F O missteps it would be John Henson, which we should have taken in KM place.

    4. Problems from Sarver that have manifested themselves into a certain negative pattern of behavior is not only him being cheap, its that he`s thought himself a basketball enthusiast whn hes not (hes all biz$) and overpaid players he shouldnt have, and underpaid or lost out on the player when he should have just paid em. And making trades for players that didnt fit the system at that time.

    5. MCW is that good. I was glad that the Suns didnt bite on the hype of Bennett or Noel, but then they turned around and picked a big stiffy of a white guy with a bum ankle. At least he`s easy on the eyes, right McD? Go figure!

  • 16 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Suns take the lead with a minute left!

  • 17 Sunsn7 // Nov 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Gotta be proud of the fight in this young team. Thoroughly entertaing and exciting game. Young Suns playing hard for Hornacek is very encouraging. Get Dragic back, Len healthy and we’ll see just how surprising they could be

  • 18 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Heartbreaking.

  • 19 hawki // Nov 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    WOW…Haven’t been this excited about a Suns team in a long time…
    We don’t need a rebuild….just a little tweaking.

  • 20 Sunsn7 // Nov 6, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    EBJM good to see you. I feel you on the tanking for Wiggins but I just couldn’t bring myself to root against this group of guys. They play hard, together and team cohesiveness is present with this team. Still dont know what to think of Len just hope he gets healthy and becomes a regular rotation player

  • 21 Sunsn7 // Nov 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    EBJM good to see you. I feel you on the tanking for Wiggins but I just couldn’t bring myself to root against this group of guys. They play hard, together and team cohesiveness is present with this team. Still dont know what to think of Len just hope he gets healthy and becomes a regular rotation player

  • 22 Sunsn7 // Nov 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Damn “smartphone”

  • 23 EBJM // Nov 6, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Hey Dave:F32 why you jumping on me for AL’s quote comparing Len to Duncan and Garnett? AL, the second post from the top.

    Why you jumping on me for JOHN’s Conley and Monroe comparison? JOHN was upset that I didn’t like Conley so HE made the comparison to the player I liked, Monroe.

    What does John Henson have to do with trading for Monroe? Monroe is the odd man out in Detroit as they are going with Drummond, Smith and Jennings and Monroe will likely be allowed to sign elsewhere. What does “fans hype” have to do with MY OPINION that if McMiracle could acquire him cheaply it would be a good move?

    Go rant to AL, JOHN or EAST COAST, OK?

  • 24 dave:f32 // Nov 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I guess you had a guilty conscience EBJM, cuz i think you wanted me to “jump all over you”, but ur flirting gets you nowhere with me. You are wishfooly thinking, EBJM? The only sentence i addressed to you was the 1st, which you repeated what Al said, so my bad i should have addressed Al. Take a chilly, EBJM. No one`s judging or keepin score. Not every one of my comments was all about you lol

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