Preview: Phoenix Suns (7-6) at Miami Heat (10-3)

Time: 5:30 pm MDT






After winning the first two games of their east coast road trip, the Suns are riding high. Despite Eric Bledsoe missing the last four games, Phoenix has found ways to win. The Suns’ defense is among the league’s best, and Coach Hornacek is getting contributions from every part of the roster. But tonight they visit the defending champions and King James himself. The Heat, after a few early stumbles, have ridden a six-game win streak to a 10-3 record, and once again, they look like the class of the league. But Miami does have its weaknesses. The Vegas spread for this game may be double digits, but the Suns have better than just a puncher’s chance to win. For more analysis, let’s look at the three biggest questions to be answered in this matchup.

Can the Suns take advantage of the Heat from downtown?

The Heat are not a good defensive team at this point in the season. One of their biggest weaknesses is defending the three. Miami is giving up over nine triples per contest and allowing opponents to hit nearly 40% from beyond the arc. The Suns have been a great three point shooting team thus far this year. Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, Channing Frye, and Marcus Morris have all been very productive from three. Floor spacing and ball movement will be key to attacking a Miami team which is high on athleticism but slow to rotate and close out on the perimeter. The Suns will need to hit double digits from downtown to keep pace with Miami’s top rated offense. If the Suns are cold from downtown, this game could get ugly in a hurry.

How will the Suns defend the Big Three?

Phoenix currently ranks seventh in defensive efficiency. Miami is #1 by a wide margin in offensive efficiency, thanks to a ridiculously efficient start to the season by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. LeBron is having another MVP caliber year. Wade has been dealing with injury, but he’s coming off a 27-point performance against the Magic. And though Chris Bosh’s scoring and rebounding are both down this season, he’s still a lethal jump shooter with a better than average first step for a big man. The Heat have fully embraced small ball this year, which makes Bosh their de facto center. Miles Plumlee will draw the defensive assignment, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Markieff Morris spent a lot of time guarding Bosh as well. The key for the Suns front line is to get a hand in Bosh’s face when he pulls up from midrange. As for guarding LeBron, this is the sort of opportunity P.J. Tucker lives for. His job will not be to stop LeBron. Nobody can do that. Instead his job will be to make LeBron work and stay out of foul trouble. The same goes for Gerald Green when guarding Dwyane Wade. Green has to keep his composure and stay on the court.

Will the Suns miss Michael Beasley?

Beasley has been efficient and productive coming off the bench for Miami this year. He’s averaging better than 10 points per game and is shooting an astounding 59% from the field. It looks as though the key to unlocking Michael’s potential might just be putting him on a team with so many star veterans that he can’t help but keep his head down and fall in line. It will be interesting to see how the Suns’ reserves defend Beasley and if they’ll attack him offensively. Despite his size and athleticism, Beasley has never been a stellar defender. Ultimately, it’s good to see that he has straightened himself out for the time being. Though with Michael, he’s only ever one off the court misstep away from returning to his old self.

Tags: Miami Heat Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Preview

  • HunterSThompson

    Suns win and only attempt 3 free throws. The gaping black hole in the center of the floor continues to show itself, even in victories. I like Plumlee, but without a bruising PF beside him he is overwhelmed.

    I doubt the wins will come as frequently when teams realize a good portion of the Suns halfcourt offense consists of 4 guys standing around the 3 point line taking turns bombing away. We need a PF in the worst way, but without a top-4 pick the Suns will likely miss out on Randle.

    BUT…all hope is not lost. Indiana has a potential PF for us in Noah Vonleh. Kid is big, tough, and by many accounts works his ass off on both ends of the floor. Averaging almost 13pts and 10 boards so far this season. If he has a big year he might come out for the draft (just a freshman).

    Someone to keep your eye on…

  • EBJM

    Lets not forget Beasley sat the first five games and didn’t see the court until Spoelstra had to shake up the line-up.

    Heat are made for the Suns. No big bruisers other than James. They barely beat the Magic by two before the Suns got them.

  • Dave:f32

    WHAT ABOUT THEM ARIZONA CARDINALS!!!! Woo hoo 7-4, in the hunt for a playoff berth, and they just knocked off one of the up-and-coming teams in the Indianapolis Colts!!!!

  • Foreveris2long

    What concerns me about tonight is the Ghost and I am not talking about the putter made by Taylor Made. A young team going into an arena where the team has won back to back championships, I think will likely feel as though the Heat have 6 players (Ghost is the 6th man) on the court all night. I suspect the Suns will short arm those three pointers and free throws due to nerves.

    If I am wrong it is Coach Horny’s fault as he keeps proving my expectations are unreasonably low. He has these guys thinking they are good when everyone else has them close to
    early retirement subject a few exceptions. We traded our starting center, our future center and lottery pick is on the shelf, one of our two really good point guards has a bum leg and Frye is playing after taking a season off for mandatory health concerns. We did not trade for allstars in the summer.
    Coach Horny has these guys believing in a defensive strategy and trusting each other on offense. The Suns think they are really good.

    Is it just me or did it seem yesterday when Goodwin was on the court with the Morris twins together, he got very few touches? I am sure it is nothing deliberate because generally speaking I think they play hard and share the rock well. However I suspect yesterday Goodwin left the game in the 2nd half thinking I could have done this on the treadmill but knowing he is glad the team won. While I suspect he is a team first guy, you still have those secret thoughts at times.

    Go Suns

  • HunterSThompson

    If you want to see some of what Noah Vonleh is about check out this video from summer camp. His highlights start at about the 1:18 mark, and include a pull up 3 pointer, big hops on a couple of dunks, two crazy crossover drives one-on-one and a post spin move that reminds a bit of A’mare (including the physique). If this kid continues to develop over this season the draft will be very interesting….

  • hawki

    Suns are 12 pt underdogs in this game
    This is the 3rd time the Suns have been double-digit underdogs this season….the other 2 being on the road vs OKC & the Spurs.
    Suns have not lost by double-digits this season….their worst losses are by 7 pts to both the Thunder & the home debacle vs the Kings.
    Suns are a League best 10-2-1 ATS.

    Expect another close game tonight that goes down to the wire….also I see LeBron & Gerald (my boy) Green to get at least one monster dunk each.

    GO SUNS !!

  • hawki

    @ Hunter

    Yeah, can’t wait to see Vonleh….a legit top 10 freshman with a 7’4″ wingspan…..although Indiana players seem to stay in college for more than one year….except if there name is Eric Gordon.

  • Foreveris2long

    Man great video. I had not heard of him before today. I will place him on the radar and try to catch some Indiana basketball. He seems to have some freakish skills.

  • vtsunrise

    Very cool video, Hunter S. The kid is smooth and looks promising.

  • HunterSThompson

    Hawki – Your point about Indiana guys staying for more than one year is well made. If he has a great year though I wonder how much incentive there might be for Vonleh to come out in this particular draft. The only true PF in the top 10 guys right now seems to be Julius Randle, which might make Noah’s draft stock higher than another year with more PF options. Alternatively, if he came back and dominated for another season at Indiana he might be nearer the top in 2015.

    I continue to be amazed at how many solid PG/SG/SF options there potentially are in this draft class. Provides some interesting leverage for the Suns, depending on where they draft/who they get.

    With the draft occurring before free agency next year the Suns could potentially draft the best player available despite potentially having Dragic and Bledsoe still on the roster (not to mention Green and Goodwin). If they don’t get the PF they need right off the bat they would still have some serious pieces to offer in a trade.

    Forever – I too watch Goodwin closely when he gets floor time, and last night was a bit of a disappointment. It blows me away that the kid is only 19 years and 3 months old! I doubt he is even finished growing yet! I sense from that game against McElmore last week that Archie has some serious desire to go up against the best and prove his game. Tonight might be fun to watch!

  • vtsunrise

    Following up on the thorny Rose situation:

    I think it’s the best possible outcome for him at this point. His knees need all the protection they can get. Reattaching vs. cutting away the torn ligament seems to offer him the best shot at a longer career. Still, I’d say he’d be a high risk to last into his 30s with his existing injury history and the punishment that his aggressive style of play puts on his joints.

  • vtsunrise

    By “high risk to last into his 30s,” of course I meant that there’s a high risk or good chance he won’t last that long…

  • vtsunrise

    I mentioned greater parity in the other thread. We’re still looking at a continental divide in terms of east-west parity in the NBA.

    Suns are #15 overall, but #11 in the West, in this week’s power rankings. If the current rankings reflected final standings, I guess this year’s strong draft would go a long way to bridging the east-west divide.

  • HunterSThompson

    With regards to tonight’s preview – I will be interested to see if Plumlee does indeed guard Bosch or if Frye gets some time on that assignment. Length on length, with Plumlee banging a bit with Battier.

    I would love to see Beasley try some hero-ball against his former team…and have Spolestra climb down his throat on the way to the bench. It would be a small satisfaction after watching Beasley get coddled and babied by the coaches last season while doing the same sort of stuff.

  • vtsunrise

    For what it’s worth, I’m 10-3 so far on game by game forecasts. I did away with my previous odds-based use of fractions of a chance for each game ( 0-0.25-0.5-0.75-1.0) and just forecast L’s and W’s. The next 10 games I have: L-W-L-W-L; L-W-L-W-L.

    It’s a dance, just like the Playoff vs. Draft sweepstakes.

    And this is based on an overall 27-55 record.

  • Smovas

    I didn’t know that Green is missing a finger on his shooting hand. Makes me root for the guy even more.

  • vtsunrise


  • vtsunrise

    Love the Suns’ hustle. I just realized that this year’s team remind me of someone: ME.

    Short on talent, long on hustle.

  • foreveris2long

    Smovas I didn’t know that either until I saw the Chambers interview.