Game Preview: Phoenix Suns(12-23) vs. Milwaukee Bucks(16-16)


Dec. 06, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry talks with players guard Goran Dragic (1), guard Shannon Brown (26) , guard Sebastian Telfair (31), forward Markieff Morris and forward Luis Scola (14) during the game against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half at US Airways Center. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 97-94. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns, losers of two straight games are set to begin their 4-game road trip which will kick-off tonight in Milwaukee against the Bucks. Coming into the game one would imagine the Suns are the struggling bunch, and they would be right, however in this scenario the Bucks are struggling a bit more than the Suns.

The Bucks coming into tonight’s game are losers of 4 in a row including 2 straight games at home. The Bucks recently “Parted ways” With team head coach Scott Skiles who was a onetime Sun; Skiles has been the head coach of the Bucks since the 2008-2009 season. At this point it’s still cloudy on why Skiles was removed as the team’s head coach.

“The real challenge is we’ve had a couple of years in a row where … we didn’t buy into our defensive system,” Skiles said before the season began. “If we do that, we’ll be a good defensive team. If we don’t, we won’t. That’s the real challenge, getting guys to buy in on that on the floor, give the effort, focus and concentrate as necessary to be a good defensive team.”

Dec 7, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles reacts during the game against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Suns aren’t shining so bright themselves as they are off to their worst start since 2003-2004 with their 12-23 record. The Suns have been utterly atrocious on the road this season owning the NBA’s current 2nd worst road record this season at 2-14 ahead of only the greatness that are the Washington Wizard who owns the league’s worst road record at 1-15; the Suns last road win was on November 27th against the Cavaliers, and since then the Suns have lost 9 straight road games.

“You’ve gotta move the ball,” Jared Dudley said. “We’re not a team that can just hold the ball … and go give it to Kobe and LeBron and (they’ll) save the day. Until we figure (that out) we’ll just keep doing these interviews and keep losing.”

For tonight’s game between the Bucks and the Suns, the Bucks are the favorite by a 5.5 point margin according to The Suns still has Sebastian Telfair on the injured list listed as day-to-day but he’s expected to play. The Bucks on the other hand has Beno Udrih and Ersan Ilyasova listed as day-to-day however both are expected to play tonight.

Keys to the game: Suns

– Beware of the Sander! Larry Sanders of the Bucks is quietly having a great season in Milwaukee. Sander who’s in his 3rd year in the NBA is leading the league in blocks per game despite only averaging 24.6 minutes per game; Sanders also averaging career highs in points and rebounds. Sanders recorded a triple-double earlier this season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. The Suns need to be on guard when attacking the rim with a rim protector like Sanders on the floor tonight.

– Please for the love of all that’s good and pure! Stop it with the turnovers! I’ve said this repeatedly throughout the season and I’m sure most of you know it by now too! The Suns are simply not good enough offensively to be coughing the ball up 15 times a game. Like Dudley said, there’s no Kobe or LeBron on the team to save the day! If this team wants a chance to win they will NEED TO TAKE CARE OF THE DAMN BALL!

– Calling all super-subs! The super-subs haven’t been super lately. The Suns bench has been catalysts for many of the Suns wins this season has just about disappeared offensively in the past couple of games. The Suns will need their super-subs to burst out of those telephone booths tonight against a struggling but nonetheless VERY DANGEROUS Bucks team.

Keys to the game: Bucks

– Make it an ugly game. It seem like that’s the type of games that the Bucks win. The Bucks are 2-9 when they allow the opposition to score over the century mark and they’re 14-7 when they hold opponents under the century mark. That’s hardly a coincidence….

– Bench domination! The Bucks bench is simply loaded with talent between rookie John Henson, veteran guard Beno Udrih, sniper Mike Dunleavy and one of the most underrated players(Despite being overpaid) in Ersan Ilyasova. This bench has won a lot of games for the Bucks this season, and if they play a strong game tonight, chances are the Bucks will snap their 4-game losing streak.

The X-Factor!

– Road woes. The Suns has been absolutely awful on the road this season. When it comes what causes Suns awful road play whether it’s because they don’t like playing on the road, because of the opposing team fans shout mean things at them during the games, because of the road benches aren’t as comfortable, or because of whatever reason it may be, it’s clear this team has a major issue playing road games. Will the road woes haunt the Suns again tonight? Their 2-14 road record suggests yes…

Match-up of the night!

– To the left, to the left…..Goran Dragic vs. Brandon Jennings; battle of the left-handed point guards. At this point I wish Dragic played more like Jennings who most people criticize for taking too many shots and they have every right to but from the Suns standpoint they need Dragic to take more shots! Dragic, despite struggling lately is still the Suns most efficient and effective offensive player. Going up against Jennings tonight, I expect a good battle between these two.