Time: 4 p.m. MST
TV: FSAThe Phoenix Suns start a four-game, five-day road trip against a resurgent Cleveland Cavaliers team that is 5-4 since trading for Luol Deng. Cleveland is currently a game and a half back from the Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Despite the poor record, this team has a bevy of talent that hasn’t meshed under first-year coach Mike Brown. Whether it be chemistry issues or players not living up to expectations, something has been missing. The Cavs have slowly started turning things around since trading for Deng and they should still make the playoffs for the first time since “The Decision” due to playing in the down Eastern Conference.
Phoenix, meanwhile, has turned into a hit-or-miss team since Eric Bledsoe went down with his injury. One night, the Suns are stomping on the Indiana Pacers, and the next night they’re losing a turnover-filled game to the Washington Wizards. The key for the Suns is limiting turnovers (obviously) which they didn’t do on Friday night. And they need to play at the pace we saw them play against the Pacers on Wednesday.
What should we be looking for as the Suns start the road trip with a win?
Can the Suns clean things up?
Friday’s game against the Wizards was one of the sloppier performances of the year. The team committed 21 turnovers that led to 26 points. In the two games prior, they turned the ball over 19 times combined and won. After the performance on Wednesday, you could feel a letdown coming from the Suns, but I did not expect the game to be that sloppy.
Does Anderson Varejao run wild?
Varejao has gone back to playing the kind of “Andy” ball that makes him a nightly double-double machine. He has had rebounding games of 25, 21 and 18 this month and is averaging over 14 rebounds per game. The Cavs could make it a disaster for poor-rebounding Suns if Varejao is running the offense glass. The Suns do have a big man themselves that can match Varejao’s activity in Miles Plumlee; it will be crucial that he has an effective game and at the very least keep Varejao off the glass.
The Dragon vs Uncle Drew, who has the better night?
We are in for a treat this afternoon, getting to watch All-Star starting point guard Kyrie Irving. “Uncle Drew” is averaging 21.4 points per game to go along with 6.2 assists and is the guy that makes the Cavaliers go. Goran Dragic has a chance to make a statement for his own All-Star game bid tonight against one of the best in the league. Even though Dragic recorded a double-double on Friday, he did not have his best game. He committed four turnovers and did not score in the fourth quarter. It is more important to the Suns than the Cavaliers for their point guard to play well in order to win.