Preview: Phoenix Suns (9-8) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (8-8)


Time: 6 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

Suns

Suns

Grizzlies

Grizzlies

For different and very obvious reasons, neither the Phoenix Suns nor the Memphis Grizzlies expected to be a middle-of-the-road team in 2013-14.

The two squads will jostle Tuesday in Memphis for the right to come out of the battle with a winning record, and it’s the Suns who could be an unofficial favorite. Memphis, already struggling to find an identity under first-year coach Dave Joerger, took a big hit when center Marc Gasol sprained his MCL two weeks ago. Adding to the frontcourt woes was an ingrown toenail hampering power forward Zach Randolph. He is questionable heading into Tuesday, and the Grizzlies missed him dearly in a 97-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

The Suns and head coach Jeff Hornacek will need to decide if guard Eric Bledsoe rejoins the starting unit after coming off the bench the last two games following his return from a shin bruise.

And overall, everyone sans Goran Dragic and perhaps P.J. Tucker will need to look at themselves in the mirror and fight after coming off a home loss to a troubled Utah Jazz team.

Does the tempo go in Phoenix’s favor?

The bad news for Phoenix is that tempo issues have been a thing despite recent opponents running out especially large lineups. And the Grizzlies, the kings of going at a steamroller’s pace, get a little faster if Kosta Koufos and Ed Davis are starting up front rather than Randolph and Gasol.

Davis the most interesting player on the Grizzlies, if only because he’s now got a shot to earn quality minutes. The former North Carolina Tar Heel was rumored to be a candidate for a contract extension to his rookie deal this summer like Bledsoe, and for what it’s worth, seems to have a tremendous upside. How the Suns handle him in transition is key. Also in terms of keeping Memphis out of fastbreak opportunities going the other way, Phoenix had best rebound the ball.

Where do Memphis’ points come from?

If Randolph returns, this might not be an issue. Memphis will have no trouble dumping it down to the grinding power forward, and he’s done everything in the past against the Suns to warrant a good deal of concern from Hornacek.

After that, however, it’s a wonder how well the Grizzlies can score. Mike Conley is not a volume shooter, even if he’s asked to be more aggressive. Nor is Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince or Koufos. Off the bench, Quincy Pondexter and Jerryd Bayless are arguably the team’s best pure scorers. Pondexter led the Grizzlies with 22 points in their last outing, but scoring 25 percent of the load didn’t cut it against Brooklyn. If the Suns can stop the bench gunners from getting hot, they’ll be in good shape.

Yet, getting stops hasn’t been Phoenix’s forte of late.

Can the Suns start fast?

Hornacek’s biggest concern from the Saturday night loss to the Utah Jazz all went back to the start of the game. The Suns coach didn’t sugarcoat anything about it — his team started slowly and that helped their opponent’s confidence grow as the game wore on.

So was that a fluke or a oncoming sign of Phoenix’s youth? If we know anything, it’s that it didn’t help the Suns in their last game.

  • EBJM

    First off I would like to take some of the sting out of the Jazz loss. The Jazz started the season without Trey Burke and obviously struggled. But they followed up the win over the suns with a resounding victory over the Rockets who have been playing great ball as of late.

    The Rockets were without Chandler Parsons who does a bit of everything for the Rockets but it came down to shoot-out between James Harden and Gordon Hayward at SG. Harden won 37 point to 29 for Hayward but the Jazz came away with the victory.

    The 2nd marquee match-up was between Derrick Favors and Dwight Howard. Corbin has benched Kanter and moved Favors into the pivot. He responded with 14 points on 100% shooting and 13 boards while containing Howard to 15 and 9.

    The Rockets Achilles heel, PG was fully taken advantage of by Trey Burke with 21/6 dimes /3 boards a steal and only one foul.

    Suns should have no problem with the Grizzlies as coach Dave Joerger isn’t in control. The players want to continue playing the same way as they did under Lionel Hollins and Joerger has EVERYBODY on the Grizzlies staff right up to the owner in his ear with suggestions.

    Following Robin Lopez: Robin posted a double-double with 12/12 against the Lakers and then followed up with 8/7 against Roy Hibbert who ended up at 16/14. Blazers won both games and are 1st in the West and 2nd in the league one back of the Pacers.

    Current surprise team: Denver Nuggets at 10-6 and have won their last six playing without JaVale McGee.

  • Sunsn7

    Suns better not miss that train this summer…

  • http://COX SOUTHPHILLY

    WE WILL GET KILLED AGAINST THIS TEAM IF HORNACEK TRYS TO PLAY WITHOUT A LEGIT(NOT FRYE)CENTER.THEY WILL MUSCLE AND BULLY US UNDERNEATH GETTING SHOT AFTER SHOT.

  • Animan

    McDonough, if you’re out there reading this, please do me a favor and SIGN ROYCE WHITE!

  • EBJM

    SouthPhilly, Marc Gasol is not playing and Z-Bo might not play either. So who exactly is going to muscle the Suns in the post? Kostas Koufos? Ed Davis? They just lost to the Nets who suck and the Grizzlies frontline of Koufos, Davis and Prince combined for a total of 20/20 while shooting 40% with zero FT attempts.

    Yeah, sign Royce White who ballooned up to 300# in the D league while with the Rockets and was given to the 76ers without having ever played a minute. Three months later the 76ers waived him. Sometimes White won’t show up as he has an anxiety disorder that causes him a fear to flying.

    Sure he showed promise at Iowa State but he didn’t even tear up the D league where the Rockets kept sending him.

    Why exactly do the Suns need this problem child who cannot even keep himself in NBA conditioning and weight?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    I lobbied long & hard for the Suns to draft Hibbert (if they were going to take a center)back in the 08 draft ….if they would have, we would be saying Robin Who ?

    Grizz seem to play better on the road…they’ve won their last 5 road games but have lost the last 4 at home…Memphis favored by 3 tonight….I like the Suns in a nailbiter

  • EBJM

    Here is another Throwback Thursday item for biggests turkeys. Former U.N.L.V. player and lottery pick Keon Clark whom the Suns acquired when they dunped Tom Guliotta on the Jazz at a cost of two 1st rd and a 2nd rd draft picks plus cash is in prison.

    Says he had an alcohol problem and that he never played an NBA game sober and usually drank at halftime.

    Incredible. Needless to say his stop in Phoenix was his last and he never played for the Suns or in the NBA again.

  • Animan

    You’ll see

  • Foreveris2long

    Animan, Considering the issues he has experienced in the NBA, I too am not sure about the need or desire to bring Royce White on board However I am open to any insight you can share.

  • Foreveris2long

    I am probably the only member in the I Am Not a Marcus Smart Fan Club. What concerns me is as a point guard he only shoots 65% from the line and averages 3 assists a game. Fortunately at present the Suns do not need a point guard.

  • Animan

    I just feel that yes, he’s an unproven talent that screams Beasley drama x100, but given the extreme success the Phoenix Suns have had with treating athletes with perpetuating medical conditions, albeit physical ones and not mental ones, I feel that if we “fix” Royce White, he could pay off dividends. We wouldn’t even have to play him, just sign him to a non-guaranteed deal if possible and keep him around/teach him the ropes. He seems like a low-risk, high-reward investment to me but I could be wrong. But I just have a gut feeling the suns will scoop him up, the same feeling when we traded for marcus last year.

  • Dave:f32

    Suns getting blown out by Memphis! :( On a brighter note, im 1 for 1 on my predictions from the other day :) Either way Suns fans win! #Randlesweepstakes

  • Dave:f32

    I keep telling y`all it comes down to MATCHUPS!! Not,if the Jazz played Houston tough so the Suns have a chance…

  • Luka

    Ed Davis destroying the Suns in the paint. Jon Leuer comes off the bench and looks like Kevin Love thanks to the Suns’ atrocious interior defense. Markieff Morris and Frye just completely let the team down with their half assed play.

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  • Solarion

    Bledsoe to the BULLS, they need a PG, and they’re still in the hunt.

  • BCrayZ

    Some of you fans are very astute.

    This unfortunately is not the case with South Philly & Luka.

    What is your problem? Last night, Suns could not grab a defensive board, except for Channing Frye, who again led the team. Best shooter last night? Frye again (at 60%). Gogi & Frye are the best we have left & the leaders of the Suns.

    MUST reunite that killer bench unit. Let’s go SUNS!!!!