Time: 7 p.m. MST
TV: FSAThe Suns host the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night for the teams’ second and final match-up of the season. In November, the Suns pulled out an eight-point victory thanks to Goran Dragic’s strong finish, when he scored the final seven points of the game to clinch the win. Tonight should not be as close of a game.
Orlando is the worst team in basketball on the road, posting a putrid 4-31 record. The Magic are coming off a 14-point loss last night in Golden State and did not get into Phoenix until early this morning. This gives the Suns an added advantage over a team that they should not have many problems against.
Then again, teams have been scoring at will against the Suns defense in the last 13 games. According to Paul Coro, the Suns have allowed a league worst 49.8 percent during that span. That all culminated on Monday night when the Brooklyn Nets shot an impressive 58.6 percent from the field, the highest field goal percentage shot by an opponent in Suns history.
The Magic are among the bottom five in the league in scoring and are one of the teams that a doctor would prescribe the Suns to play to fix that ailing defense, though, the Suns must be careful to not overlook a struggling team.
“From this point on we need to take it a game at a time,” Suns guard Eric Bledsoe said. “Orlando is better than their record, they have good talent on their team and they are better than their record says it is.”
Here are some things to look out for in tonight’s game.
Do the Suns come out with the first punch?
At this point of the season, struggling teams will most likely quit if they are punched in the mouth early. The Magic have nothing to play for and are coming off a late game the night before. If the Suns can jump them early and build a double-digit lead in the first quarter, it could mean an easy night at U.S. Airways Center. Easier said than done considering Phoenix has often struggled to get out of the gates quickly.
Does Bledsoe push the ball more?
Bledsoe has gone back to being the guard that brings up the ball the majority of the time when he is on the court. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek is glad to see him back at full strength, but wants him to try and be even more aggressive on offense.
“He has done fine,” Hornacek said. “He still has the quickness and explosiveness, but we want him to push the ball even more and get easy buckets in transition.”
The 6-foot-1 guard has been at his best when he uses his quickness and is aggressive in taking the ball to the basket. One of the few parts of his game that has been slow to return is his jump shot. Bledsoe is just 2-for-12 from the three point line and is shooting under 40 percent from the field since returning from injury.
“I just have to keep playing through it,” Bledsoe said. “Right now, it is not about my shot, it is about us winning.”
How do the young guys play?
This refers to the rookies, Archie Goodwin and Alex Len. Both of them had nice games on the road trip — Len in Boston and Goodwin in Brooklyn — and Wednesday should be another night for at least one of them to shine. If the Suns can race out to a big lead it could provide ample time for the young guys to continue to progress on the court.
Eric Bledsoe said that he is coming for Warren Buffet’s $1 billion dollar challenge for the perfect March Madness bracket. So which team is he banking on to win it all? That is an obvious choice for him: Kentucky.