Preview: Phoenix Suns (21-15) vs. New York Knicks (14-22)

Time: 5:30 p.m. MST


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The Suns have the better plan. The Knicks have the better player. Neither of the teams that will meet Monday night in Madison Square Garden have had it easy this year.

Phoenix and New York each have a player capable of taking over games, but after that it comes down to team ball. Often times, that’s not enough in the NBA.

On most nights, it’s been anyone’s guess if Carmelo Anthony would have any help. But the Knicks’ superstar has his team on a four-game winning streak and in their last game, a 102-92 win against Philadelphia, former Suns forward Amare Stoudemire went for 21 points while guard J.R. Smith responded well to a benching to post 14 points and six assists.

Phoenix knows what it’s like to have a short supply of playmakers. The Suns have been struggling on both ends of the court since Eric Bledsoe went down with a knee injury that required meniscus to be removed, and as well as Goran Dragic has played, it hasn’t been enough.

The Suns have been an average team with a 104.4 offensive rating and 104.9 defensive rating since the calendar flipped to 2014. If we’re taking a wide-angle view at this team, it’s become clear they’re not much more than a .500 team without Bledsoe helping Dragic.

Can Phoenix keep New York off the offensive glass?

The Suns have given up the third highest-percentage of offensive rebounds to opponents this season and remain just below the Philadelphia 76ers in this new year. If they can’t figure out how to solve that issue against the New York Knicks, then it’s hard to remain hopeful that will change this season.

New York ranks second-to-last in rebounds per game and though they’re playing better defense to force more rebounding opportunities, their size or lack thereof should give Phoenix the rare chance to earn some second-chance points. Coming off losses to sound rebounding clubs in Memphis and then Detroit certainly was evidence the Suns need to push for improvement.

Tyson Chandler is questionable with an illness, and his status will depend on how much Phoenix can take advantage. And on that note…

Can Phoenix score points in the paint?

Without Bledsoe and Dragic finding open slashing lashes thanks to extended defenses and one another’s slashing abilities, the Suns have a jumpshot-dependent offense. The Suns have been outscored in the paint 120-72 during their last two games, and even if Chandler is ready to play, Phoenix must attack the rim to, at the very least, give their shooters more open looks.

Will Amare and J.R. make a difference?

We’d expect that Channing Frye can defend Andrea Bargnani, if only because he’s a less efficient version of Frye. But how will the Morris twins handle Stoudemire? The former Suns All-Star began the season looking like his career was over. His role has increased by necessity under coach Mike Woodson, and with that it appears the creaky knees have been lubricated enough to make an impact.

Stoudemire is going to put up a lot of shots, and the Suns’ bench can’t afford to give up offensive rebounds or Anthony to get any more help.

  • Foreveris2long

    Green has to attempt more shots in the paint to get to the free throw line more often. It should also increase his offensive efficiency which will benefit the Suns. Same applies to Frye. These two adjustments should improve the Suns chances of winning tonight and in the foreseeable future in the absence of Bledsoe. Both are capable and therefore they simply have to change the jump shot trigger mindset.

    Markief needs to focus on finishing around the basket as he blows far too many layups, especially for a big. It is not that complicated.

  • m.i.milliman

    These two teams have been my favorite teams in the NBA traditionally, and where as I love me some Knicks, the Suns will always be my first love. So, go Suns. Also there’s this, I haven’t enjoyed a Knick player since Lin. Carmelo is not a player that is easy to root for. he does too many things that make you wonder why the experts continue to call him an elite player. It’s baffling. The Suns could loose this game, but I think it would come down to the Suns loosing the game rather than the Knicks winning.

    I hope the Suns win, but I also hope for better days for the Knicks. I don’t see that happening however with Dolan in charge.

  • sunsn7

    Magic Dragon!

  • Dave:f32

    Barbosa is back!!!

  • sunsn7

    Damn Barbosa is balling out!

  • sunsn7

    Good to see Archie Goodwin be one of the first guys off the bench to hi five Barbosa after 2 clutch free throws…

  • sunsn7

    Overtime! :)

  • Dave:f32

    OT baby! Thank you LB10!

  • sunsn7

    Ball needs to be in Dragic’s hands the rest of the way. Let him create wirh dribble penetration

  • sunsn7

    Frye to the bucket and draws the foul…

    See how well that works?

  • sunsn7

    And the Suns STILL have a chance

  • phxfaninla

    Well can someone tell me why green is in the game and barbosa isnt in overtime???

  • sunsn7

    Ugh are the Suns ever ugly in the halfcourt offense!

    Oh well they had plenty of opportunities to capitalize and couldn’t get it done. On to the next!

  • sunsn7

    Hornacek outcoached by Mike Woodson in overtime. Frye chokes at ft line…

    .500 ball from here on out

  • Dave:f32

    Whats up with Frye getting all trigger-shy at the 3-point line with a chance to tie it with a triple???? He had like two or three chances to take the shot!!! The Channing Choke

  • Dave:f32

    Then Frye not missing the 2nd free throw after missing the 1st. I could see Christmas on the bench at the break say to Frye ” why didnt u miss it so we could get the rebound”. Channing shrugged it off and mumbled something

  • Dave:f32

    A veteran making rookie mistakes! Its easy for Frye to hit threes when theres nothing to lose, but when the game’s on the line its a different story!

  • Luka

    Frye and Morris brothers will be gone by Feb.

  • sunsn7

    Hey Dave? Maybe Frye wanted to pad his stats with a single point? :)

    Yeah he chucks sometimes when he shouldn’t and then when he had the straightaway 3, he passes it up thereby stifling the Suns offense.

  • sunsn7

    Only way Suns should make any trade is if they get a straight up junkyard dog in the paint.


  • J

    I wonder if the Suns were trying to get Terrence Jones in all those trade situations with Houston earlier in the season. Hes shown some skill lately and been hitting the boards pretty well too.