Preview: Phoenix Suns (36-27) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-40)


Time: 7 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

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“Yes. He is in.”

Those were the words from Suns coach Jeff Hornacek today, answering the question before it was even asked to him after shootaround.

Eric Bledsoe will return off the bench for tonight’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has missed the last 33 games since having to undergo knee surgery for a torn meniscus. To say he is excited to return may be an understatement.

“I am excited to get back out there with my teammates and be a part of a playoff race,” Bledsoe said. “Emotions are real high and I am just excited.”

He is so excited he came to the arena earlier than usual today. Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown thinks his return could be a difference maker in the Western Conference playoff race.

“He is athletic, strong, explosive and brings a different dimension to the team with all the tools I mentioned that you had not seen before without him,” Brown said. “He can definitely change the course of the team by himself to make them that much better.”

The Suns are 16-8 with Bledsoe in the lineup this season and a very mediocre 20-19 without him. Tonight begins a six game stretch against Eastern Conference teams that Hornack thinks is crucial for having any chance at making a playoff run.

“Definitely this is a huge six games,” Hornacek said. “They are games we can lose, but if we want to be a playoff team they are games we have to win.

“Simple as that. If we want to make that push and try to get in this is a good stretch for us to try and prove that.”

Facing a Cavaliers squad that has lost four games in a row may be the perfect team to get Bledsoe’s feet wet again and get a victory. Here are some things to look out for in tonight’s game.

How does Bledsoe look?

This is obviously one of the big things to look out for tonight. As mentioned above, Bledsoe will come off the bench and his minutes will be dictated by the flow of the game and how his conditioning holds up. His explosiveness from before his injury is not expected to be an issue, and if it is Bledsoe decided not to share out that detail.

“We will see tonight,” Bledsoe smilingly said. ” You can tell and judge that, I am just glad to play.”

New starting lineup look

The new starting lineup does not feature the addition of Bledsoe. Instead, we will see Marcus Morris starting in place of the suspended P.J. Tucker. Morris has played very well as of late, scoring in double digits in the past six past games and shooting above 50% in all but one of them. Hornacek feels like he has earned the chance to start.

“He has done a good job, so he is deserving of the opportunity,” Hornacek said.

A look to keep an eye out is Hornacek rolling out a three guard lineup with Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Gerald Green. He has mentioned it before, but with Tucker out it gives the Suns coach a better chance to use it tonight.

“We could go with a small lineup,” Hornacek said. “I figure Goran and Eric will be in there for quite a bit anyways, but now it will allow Gerald to play the three as well.

“It puts a little wrinkle in what we have to do and the guys have to step up and win it for PJ.”

Can the Cavs defend the three?

One of the main points Brown is keying in on for tonight is defending the Suns three-point shot. He was satisfied with how his team guarded the three in the Suns’ 99-90 win in Cleveland a couple months ago. He was not happy with his team’s effort in defending the three against New York on Saturday and is looking for his team to improve on that tonight.

“The second thing is we have to make sure we defend the three,” Brown said. “We did a good job in our last game against Phoenix at home, then in the second half they hit four or five right off the bat.

“We have to close out on the different shooters they have.”

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Eric Bledsoe Goran Dragic Phoenix Suns

  • DZ

    The Suns will miss PJ tonight but having Bledsoe back will be great. If the Suns can finish the season with the same winning percentage that they started the season with, catching Dallas AND Memphis might be possible.

  • DBreezy

    This is game one of what will probably be the most important 11 games of the season for the Suns. While not every opponents is a creampuff and 7 of the games are on the road, the Suns should be favored in all of these games. If they want the playoffs, they have to treat this stretch like San Antonio does their rodeo trip. The April schedule is ugly and I don’t expect any favors as too many seedings are still up for grabs.

  • Foreveris2long

    I think tonight and Friday (Boston) are must wins. I am hoping for a split Sunday and Monday against Toronto and New Jersey. The playoff intensity should be in full force. I hope everyone is fully engaged.

  • ward

    He will get 15 pts; 5 assists; 5 rebounds

  • sunsn7

    Yup, in that neighborhood Ward…

    as long as the Suns play with high energy and the sense of urgency necessary at this time of year, they’ll be fine…tonight.

    But no easy win tonight!!
    ;) you’re welcome Hawki

  • DBreezy
  • http://ultimatesimbaseball.com brenton

    Haha.

    Suns defense is putrid right now. Offensive rebounds are killing the suns. That and turnovers.

  • sunsn7

    Channing Frye sees Spencer Hawes flagrantly take down Plumlee right in front of him and he doesn’t even look in Hawes direction, instead pleads with the ref (as usual)

    Frye is an 8th or 9th man on an average team.

  • Anonymous

    Dallas and Memphis win today, and Suns are down 13 at the half. Not looking too good.

  • sunsn7

    Looking at halftime highlights, that Bledsoe dribble penetration assist feed to Plumlee for the reverse jam was reminiscent of none other than Kevin Johnson.

    He’s looking good so far. Dragic needs to go to another gear this 2nd half though.

  • sunsn7

    Hornacek outcoached tonight by Mike Brown. Way to go Channing Frye!

    And way to do your best Alvin Gentry imitation by leaving him in Horny :|

  • Anonymous

    Its just ONE GAME lol

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t realize there was another anonymous. Time to get an actual user name.

  • bill_thomas

    I guess it didn’t matter that much to a few. A few were unready to play, a few others were not played which tells me that we have roster holes that should have been filled at the deadline but were not.

    We could have obtained Spencer Hawes for a song. Or Deng for that matter.

  • Anonymous

    Redflag stats abound!!!!

    Cavs spoil Bledsoe return by beating Suns 110-101
    By By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
    Posted Mar 13 2014 12:54AM ET
    PHOENIX (AP) Kyrie Irving scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and the Cleveland Cavaliers spoiled the return of Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe with a 110-101 victory over the Suns on Wednesday night.
    Spencer Hawes added 19, 17 in the first quarter, and Luol Deng scored 18 as the Cavs snapped a four-game losing streak.
    Bledsoe, who underwent knee surgery and missed 33 games, had 15 points on 5 for 16 shooting and a team-high nine assists.
    Goran Dragic scored 20 points, Markieff Morris 18 and Channing Frye 17 in the Suns’ third straight loss.
    Irving also had nine rebounds and six assists for the Cavs, who never trailed, building a 14-point first-quarter lead. The Suns twice cut it to two in the third quarter.
    Phoenix fell two games behind Memphis and Dallas for the final two playoff spots in the West.
    Cleveland led by 15 in the opening minutes of the third quarter but the Suns, behind Dragic’s 11 third-quarter points, cut it to two twice late in the period, the last time on Gerald Green’s 11-footer in the lane that made it 77-75 with 35.9 seconds left.
    But after the teams traded baskets, Dion Waiters made a 3 at the buzzer to put Cleveland up 82-77 entering the fourth.
    It was part of a 12-2 run that gave the Cavaliers an 89-77 lead on Irving’s 18-footer with 10:15 to play.
    Green’s steal and breakaway dunk cut it to 89-81, but Irving scored eight, including two 3s, in a 9-3 spurt and the Cavs led 98-84 with 6:33 left.
    Green had eight points on 4 of 14 shooting, 0 for 6 from 3-point range as the Suns went 10 for 36 from beyond the arc to Cleveland’s 12 of 24. The Cavs outrebounded Phoenix 51-36.
    The Suns also struggled from the foul line, going 13 of 22 to Cleveland’s 22 of 27.
    Hawes scored 17 in the first quarter, including 3 of 3 3-pointers, as Cleveland took a 37-24 lead. It was the highest-scoring first quarter of the season for the Cavaliers.
    Phoenix never got closer than nine in the second quarter. Markieff Morris scored inside to make it 46-37, but Tristan Thompson made a 6-footer and Deng made a 3 and Cleveland led 51-37 with 4:01 left in the half.
    The Cavs were up 60-47 at the break, outrebounding the Suns 25-13 and making 8 of 11 3s to Phoenix’s 5 of 18 in the first two quarters.
    Notes: The Cavaliers signed F Shane Edwards to a 10-day contract and released F Arinze Onuaku. … The game was the only one at home for Phoenix in a stretch of six. … Hawes was called for a flagrant foul on Miles Plumlee in the third quarter. … Phoenix has lost seven of 10. … Cleveland shot 47 percent, ending a string of seven straight games in which the Phoenix opponent shot better than 50 percent.
    Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited Collapse Full Story

  • bill_thomas

    Well at least we didn’t let Archie get any minutes. Maybe that is what helped us win this one.

  • bill_thomas

    Well at least we weren’t really trying for the playoffs. Whew! Now we can get the lowest Lottery Pick. Jubilation ! A real game changer !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Cleveland only shot 47 Percent against us?? Wow, there must be some really nasty flu going around !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    I’m sure glad we cleared all that up !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Postgame notes:

    Coach Hornacek is at a loss for words
    Goran Dragic (20, 5) covered his head with a towel for the first five minutes of postgame media time in the locker room.
    Markieff Morris (18, 10) took questions at his locker with a somber tone and head shakes on what’s happened to the Suns.
    Dragic pulled off the towel, took questions for almost ten minutes. He’s never been this physically beat up at this point in the season. And had to talk himself into 18 games being a lot of time left to make up a two-game deficit on the playoff chase.

  • TI

    It’s a good thing this was only a road loss and the Suns are peaking at the right time heading into the playoff stretch!

    And to think at the beginning of the season the Suns were planning on getting Julius Randle at the end of it… Pfffft

  • Pingback: Cleveland Cavaliers 110, Phoenix Suns 101 -- Rock and rolled

  • Luka

    Let me first start by saying, this doesn’t come as much surprise to me. I’m pissed off watching it unfold, but I’m not surprised. The Suns haven’t been playing well since all-star break. I said if McDonough didn’t pull off a trade they wouldn’t make it and it’s starting to look like the case.

    Spencer Hawes, and Thad Young were players I wanted the Suns to get. Hawes would’ve solved a lot of problems the Suns had in the half court, and would’ve been a major upgrade over offensive deadweight Plumlee. Hawes is not only a great floor spacer but an adept passer. I was laughing my ass off when he scored on the Suns taking the ball length of the floor.

    Frye and Markieff are pitiful IMO. No fundamentals between them. They can’t post up. They don’t box out. Can’t defend. Can’t rebound for shit. They are a severe detriment to the team.

    Hornacek meanwhile needs to do his job and bench Frye, and go with a smaller line-up. This foolishness has to stop. Plumlee, Tucker, Green, Dragic, Bledsoe. Get Archie Goodwin back in the rotation.

  • bill_thomas

    Front Office made big mistakes at deadline. WENT SARVER CHEAP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Front office just likes to eat pie. No work, just eat. Phoenix Suns FO !!!

  • bill_thomas

    Hoe about Deadweight Frye. Maybe he should resign. Save a few dollars.

  • bill_thomas

    Hawes took the ball the full length of the floor??

    Well we should just suspend practice and spend the time giving alms to the little sisters of the poor.

    That is what this team is about.

  • bill_thomas

    SARVER CHEAP !!!!!!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    We should just give up at this point and turn it over to the FO and Hornacek. Bring on about 8 D-Leagears to finish out the season.

    No sense having our guys get injured or work themselves out over this FO/Coaching Shit !!!!!!

  • bill_thomas

    Archie Goodwin?? No way. Has to be Frye who sits on his hands while he sees a murder unfold.