January 31, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson (25) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns host Charlotte Bobcats, look to win fifth in a row

Phoenix Suns host Charlotte Bobcats

The Suns just had a great road trip going 4-0, which included beating the teams they should (Cleveland, Philadelphia and Milwaukee) followed by another victory over the Indiana Pacers. For the second time in eight days. To what was the NBA’s best team. Now that honor is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s with Indiana’s recent losses to Phoenix (2X) and Denver.

The Suns need to keep up the momentum. At home, role players generally play better, and they need to in the next two games. Phoenix only has five more games before the All-Star break. And due to nobody on the Suns really getting any recognition (i.e. an invitation or selection to any event) they will all have time to recuperate for an entire week. They need to put everything into these set of games.

They play Charlotte and Chicago at home (these need to be Suns blowouts), then travel to Houston for a game against the Rockets and quickly back home to play the Golden state Warriors. These are two important games because the Suns are sandwiched between those teams in the Western Conference standings. They go into the break with a winnable home game against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

If they can sweep the Pacers, all these games are winnable. How nice would it be to go into the All-Star break on a nine game winning streak? But it all starts with Saturday’s game against the Bobcats.

Key Matchup:

Al Jefferson versus Miles Plumlee. The Bobcats acquired Jefferson from the Utah Jazz for a reason. He’s good. He’s a load down on the low block with a variety of moves, including a near-unblockable jump-hook. Plumlee has to “push” him off his spot, making him catch the ball farther out. On the offensive side of the ball, Miles need to be aggressive driving into Jefferson, getting him into foul trouble.

What the Suns offense needs to focus on:

While the Bobcats did just beat the miserable Lakers, and are better than last season, their 21-27 record shows a less than stellar level of play over the course of the last few months. The Suns need to push the ball, get into their offense, get out in transition and put this game away by halftime (but still come out with energy in the third quarter to stop Charlotte from making a run). Also, don’t turn the ball over.

What the Suns defense need to watch out for:

Other than keeping Al Jefferson contained (and off the glass), the Suns need to limit the effectiveness of Kemba Walker. His ability to get to the hole for his own shot or penetrate into the defense and kick out for an open shot can turn a game around. So lateral quickness for the Phoenix backcourt will be essential.

Prediction:

Suns win 108-89

Tags: Al Jefferson Basketball Kemba Walker NBA Phoenix Suns

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