Well, so far the Suns are 2-0 on their Eastern road-trip. They got the wrench of adding Eric Bledsoe into the lineup out of the way in that horrible loss to Cleveland in Phoenix, then hit the road. Beat Boston, beat Toronto, now the Suns face fearsome Brooklyn on a brutal road back-to-back.
Fortunately for Phoenix, the game against Toronto was at 1:00 p.m. just north of the border, which was 10 a.m. Arizona time, meaning the impact of a back to back was lessened, if not eliminated completely. Only after the game will we really know (if we ever will) how much playing in the morning the day before another game, affects the players.
Regardless of how tired any of the Suns players are, they have their work cut out for them. Brooklyn has been on a tear since the New Year (were 10-21 before Jan. 1, went 14-6 up through the All-Star break, then has gone 9-4 since). However the Net’s current record of 33-31 is still worse than the Suns 38-28 mark.
The Nets have been a bit hampered by injury this season (partially brought on by older, “win-now” veteran roster). Unfortunately, they lost one of their better, younger players for the whole year in center Brook Lopez to a foot injury a few months back. For tonight’s game, veteran Kevin Garnett will miss his ninth-straight game due to back spasms according to ESPN.com.
Channing Frye versus Paul Pierce. With Garnett and Lopez out, Brooklyn’s rotation is all messed up. It looks like the 6’7” 36-year-old Paul Pierce has been playing power forward (used to play shooting guard and small forward with lots of ball handing responsibilities). He seems quite undersized for that position as he would be going up against the 6’11” Channing Frye. If there are matched up in this game both players will have distinct advantages and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds. Frye could easily take Pierce in the post and work him over, or shoot threes with no thought to the shorter Pierce. On the other hand, Pierce is faster (probably, he’s six years older and even when he’s playing well everything looks labored), but will be able to take Frye off the dribble.
Points allowed versus points scored. Which one will come out victorious? The Suns are 6th in the league in points scored, averaging 105.4, while the Nets are 8th in points only allowing 98.9 points per game on average.
Sleeper on Brooklyn to watch out for:
Marcus Thornton. The 26-year-old shooting guard was fortunately rescued from NBA purgatory in Sacramento, where recently no player or team can have any sustainable success. He seems to score in bursts as he’s only scored under five points three out of the last five games, but the Suns are worried about the other two games. As a bench player, he scored 27 points against his former team and scored 19 Saturday against the Wizards.
What the Suns offense should focus on:
Get Plumlee involved early again, especially against his younger brother Mason. It pays dividends later as Miles’ defense seems to pick up when his offense is flowing. This is another Gerald Green “revenge” game as Gerald played for Brooklyn in 2011-12. Then again most games are Gerald “revenge” games as he’s played for the Celtics, Rockets, Timberwolves, Mavericks, Nets and Pacers before coming to Phoenix. so feed Gerald.
What the Suns defense needs to watch out for:
Just play well enough so former Sun Joe Johnson doesn’t beat you again at the buzzer with a floater. To do that, keep everyone out of the paint, forcing contested jumpers and keep the turnovers low. Also, watch out for Deron Williams.
Suns win 107-95, to sweep the Eastern road-trip.