Let's be real; you probably don't have anything better to do with your Saturday morning than watch the Phoenix Suns take on a struggling, Melo-less New York Knicks team.
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: 11:00 AM (AZ) 1:00 PM (East Coast)
Watch: FSAZ (locally), NBA League Pass
Listen: AZ Sports 98.7 FM
After losing six straight games, the Phoenix Suns (13-14) bounced back with a grind it out win against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. They'll continue their short three game road trip with a stop at the basketball Mecca to take on the struggling New York Knicks. Despite their struggles to protect the home court, the Phoenix Suns have been good on the road, and have stayed in the Western Conference playoff race by feasting off of lowly Eastern Conference teams. The Suns have a nice breakfast of New York Knicks (5-23) waiting for them, and they should be licking their chops.
The Knicks have been really bad. Like, catastrophically bad. They've already put together respective seven and ten game losing streaks, and are in the midst of a three game losing streak coming into Saturday's game. Things are looking even worse for the Knicks, with Carmelo Anthony being advised to sit out the next few weeks with a knee injury (he did not play against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday). He is listed as questionable against the Suns. J.R. Smith is doubtful with a heel injury.
This largely depends on whether Melo plays or not, but the Suns should still approach the game the same way. Melo is by far the best player on this team, and P.J. Tucker will have his work cut out for him on defense if he plays. However, the Knicks are still a horrible team, even with Anthony getting his 23 points per game.
The next biggest threat on the Knicks is A'mare Stoudemire, who has looked much more like himself this season, with 13.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG averages. Stoudemire has stayed healthy this season (get this: he's one of four players who have played in at least 27 of the Knicks 28 games). He's not the STAT we all remember, but he is still capable of putting up big numbers. Markieff Morris will have to keep up with him.
Other than that, there's not a whole lot to get excited about on this Knicks team. Hardaway Jr. will fill the J.R. Smith role and chuck away, but he only shoots 39%. They have two sneaky point guards in Jose Calderon and Pablo Prigoni, but the Suns point guards should murder these guys. Shane Larkin gave the Suns fits last season when he was on Dallas, but he should be easily contained.
There are zero excuses here. The Suns have already given up too many easy ones to bad, bad teams, and New York is truly one of the worst. The Knicks are 29th in points per game, and are a middle of the pack defensive team. This has to be an easy win for the Suns, but they cannot stroll into Madison Square Garden expecting to win. They need to come out focused, and rip the heart out before the Knicks even have a chance to compete in this game.
Prediction: Suns 120, Knicks 105
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It doesn't get any easier for the Suns this weekend.
They play the Knicks tonight after spending the last two days in the Big Party City, and we know what that kind of down time does to a team's game prep. Remember the beat-down they took in 2009 on the same such sked?
Then the Suns play a back-to-back (on which they are 1-6 this season) against Marcin Gortat's Washington Wizards. Since Marcin left, we've seen the rise and fall of Miles Plumlee and steady improvement from Alex Len but neither has been as productive as the Polish Pillow. Yet, Gortat was to the 2012-13 locker room what Isaiah Thomas appears to be to the 2014-15 locker room - a productive player who leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths.
Then the Suns host Rajon Rondo's Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the Suns, the Mavericks will be riding the high of acquiring a multi-time All-Star and also smarting from the beat down the Suns gave them right before the six-game losing streak began.
Let's take a look at who does well and who doesn't against these teams.
Goran Dragic. In two games against the Knicks last season, Dragic averaged 30 points a night on 52% shooting (53% on threes), along with 5 assists and 4 rebounds. He was a scoring machine.
Gerald Green. The Green Machine was just awful last season against the Knicks, putting up only 5 points per game in two chances. The first game was Green's worst of the season, making only 2 of 16 shots in 42 minutes of play in a Suns loss.
Goran Dragic. In two games against the Wizards last year, Dragic averaged 22 points on 53% shooting (40% on threes) and 8.5 assists against John Wall. In the second Wizards game, Eric Bledsoe had 23 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds alongside Goran's stats, but the Suns lost a close one.
Markieff Morris. In two games, he averaged only 10 points and 3 rebounds - well below his season averages. But even worse, his brother Marcus Morris has scored only 2 points per game in 6 career contests against the Wizards. Just something about the Wizards makes the Morrii play bad.
Goran Dragic. The Dragon had 28 points and 13 assists in the Suns shellacking of the Mavericks two weeks ago in Dallas. That was easily the Dragon's best overall stat stuffing night. Will he do as well on Tuesday? Maybe, since Monta Ellis will still be the one guarding him.
No one really hates the Mavericks, who play their own version of fantasy basketball. You can't go wrong here.
For his career, John Wall puts up 16.6 points and 9.9 assists against the Suns and he's been even better this season. Put him in your lineup for a ton of fantasy points.
Marcin Gortat. He did not play that well last year against his former team, putting up only 15 points and 5 rebounds in two contests. Look for him to try to dominate the PlumLen line, but don't expect big numbers. Pass on Marcin on Sunday.
Got it? I've given you the winners and losers. The rest is on you. To recap: #FanDuelSBN, leave your lineup below, and of course the link to make it all happen. I'd say "good luck" but you don't need it.