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Let's take this one, guys! (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
No one is going to cheer harder than I will at the game tonight.
Unfortunately, the most that's going to accomplish until the fourth quarter (unless the Phoenix Suns reverse their trend of allowing 10+ point second-half leads to opponents at home) is garner derisive sideways glances from my fellow ticketholders from the Sun city or Gilbert area. One problem with expensive tickets is that the original fanbase who bought them 20-25 years ago are now much older than their prime.
But I digress.
We get Portland again. Fancy that. After tonight, the Suns will have played Portland 9 times in their last 40 meaningful games (playoffs and regular season), splitting the first 8 right down the middle. Seems like a lot, doesn't it? Will, it is.
I think each team knows what to expect from the other. And as usual, the winner will likely be the one with the most surprise performances from its supporting cast. Camby can get 20 rebounds, and Roy and Aldridge can fuddle their way to 25 points and the Suns will still win. But if Rudy and Matthews get 30+ between them, and another 1-2 rotation players make an outsized contribution, then the Suns will end the game with frustrated looks on their faces and a lot of heavy practices on the horizon.
Portland used their collective hard work and will to beat the Magic last night. I's a bad thing for the Suns that the Blazers' collective morale is sky high right now, but it's also a good thing for the Suns because Portland will have a hard time maintaining this inspired play.
Teams like Portland and Phoenix hover around .500 for a reason.
Portland's problem is offense. Phoenix's problem is defense. Both are one of the worst in the league.
Portland is 23rd in PPG (95.3), 28th in FG% (43.3%) and 24th in 3-pt% (33%). Yet, they are 16th in offensive efficiency because they are #1 in the league in offensive rebounding. Their entire offense is based on second-chance points. Ruh-Roh for the Suns on that stat.
For the Suns to win, they need to REBOUND THE BALL on Portland's misses. Duh, right? I know, I'm a genius.
Oh, and a certain SG needs to get his stroke back. Has their ever been a more extreme hot/cold player on the team the past decade than Jason Richardson? When he's hot, you think he'll never miss again. Until he does.
A little housekeeping:
I am out of town on business today without my laptop - using the hotel lobby computer right now - and will return to Phoenix just in time for the game tonight.
I'm writing this preview at 8am and pre-scheduling the first and second-half game threads for tonight. If there's big Suns news during the day today, this preview post will have no idea it happened. I'm hoping Seth or Wil or someone will make sure you are properly informed, though.
When I get home after the game I'll write a first-person recap of what will hopefully be an exhilirating win. Talk to you all then!
Lots of gameday stuff: Trail Blazers vs Suns coverage
And check out our friends over at Blazersedge
[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/10/10 3:31 PM MST ]
Safe travels, Alex!
Here's my game preview that not surprisingly focuses on the need for the Suns bench to play well.
Phoenix Suns Schedule Revenge Game Against Portland Trail Blazers - SB Nation Arizona
The Suns face the Blazers at home for the first time this season. They were in both games in Portland, but lost in the fourth quarter each time. The Suns will hope to take advantage of a tired opponent who played the late TNT game last night before traveling to Phoenix.
and then also some reaction to the Earl Clark trade rumors (that aren't likely to come true so don't get to excited/depressed)
Earl Clark For Solomon Jones Trade Rumor Analysis - SB Nation Arizona
There's a minor trade rumor reported by Hoops World that the Phoenix Suns are talking to the Indiana Pacers about trading Earl Clark for Solomon Jones. Clark and Jones are both 6-10 forwards, but they are very different players.