The Phoenix Suns face the Sacramento Kings tonight, who are on the back end of a back-to-back while the Suns had yesterday off. I saw Hakim Warrick walking the Scottsdale Fashion Square with some buds, while teammate Marcin Gortat went on a date to the new Aniston/Sandler comedy and Steve Nash probably played with his kids.
Is it just me or does it seem like this is a broken record? In fact, it is a broken record after all. Here's an excerpt from some analysis of the Suns' schedule last fall.
But what's even more interesting, and what's missing from previous schedule analysis, is that the Suns will play a league-leading 20 games against opponents on their second game of a back to back while the Suns are rested!
Read more: http://valleyofthesuns.com/2010/11/16/phoenix-suns-leagues-most-favorable-schedule/#ixzz1Drcbn7Li
In the last three games, the Suns have done the B2B tradeoff. Thursday's game against Golden State had the Warriors finishing a B2B, then Friday's game saw the Suns take their turn on the B2B (one of only 16 on the season for the Suns), and now its Sacramento's turn.
A few big questions lead off tonight's game:
1) Will DeMarcus Cousins play? (Update: Cousins definitely out)
2) Will the Suns take the 4th quarter collapse in last game as real incentive to kick some butt tonight?
3) Will Goran Dragic return?
Hit the jump for more...
Will Cousins Play?
Update: Cousins definitely out
Cousins was removed from the team plane last night, and has been told he needs to meet with the GM Geoff Petrie on Monday morning to discuss the altercation in more (face-to-face) detail. Petrie is out of town on a scouting trip, not returning until late Sunday. Several blog-type outlets have reported this as a suspension, but the team itself has not made any announcement at this time.
Frankly, I hope DeMarcus plays. I have no desire to watch yet another team fail to show up mentally for a game against the Suns. We've had two straight opponents fold up their tents early, and a full-strength Kings squad was likely to be a third in a row given poor record, their last-second loss only 20 hours ago, and the Suns' likely desire to right a wrong.
If Cousins doesn't play though, a pair of Suns killers will get more burn than usual. Jason Thompson (14 pts, 6.6 rebs in 28 mins lifetime against Suns), Carl Landry (16.8 and 7.6 - most against any opponent - in 28 mins lifetime against Suns) will get the bulk of the frontcourt minutes. Thomspon has previously been too long for the Suns' frontcourt, and Carl Landry has been an energetic demon off the bench.
So, I really hope Cousins plays. I want the Suns to beat a full squad with a minimum of excuses. And I'd rather the unknown of Cousins than the "known" of getting hurt by Thompson and Landry.
Here's the stats for the 12-38 Kings
Will the Suns play with a vengeance?
I'm not entirely sure the Suns will play to avenge their 4th quarter collapse the last time these teams met. The loss was damaging, but mainly self-inflicted. And it was so "far" ago, so far away from where the team is now, that they may not recognize themselves if they recall the last game in prep for this one.
But I sure HOPE the Suns come out with a purpose and a vengeance. The Kings outrebounded the Suns 60-32 in that game. 60-32. Ouch. I hope Frye, Warrick, Lopez and Gortat take it upon themselves to control those defensive boards. I hope Hill, Carter, Dudley and Pietrus take it upon themselves to box out Casspi and Garcia from offensive rebounds.
If the Suns take care of the boards, they will win this game going away.
Final Question: Will Goran Dragic play?
I know there's a few Zabian Dowdell fans out there. What Zabian has over Goran is self-confidence and the full knowledge of his complete (though limited) skillset. Zabian plays wihtin himself, and has no fear on the court.
But don't forget Goran's many gifts. He is a skilled passer, shooter and defender. His problem is that he doesn't always play under control and doesn't always have his head clearly "in the moment".
Hopefully some time off will do Goran well, especially while he's watched the second unit play very well lately under Dowdell's controlled leadership. I'll take a peaking Goran over a peaking Dowdell any time.
Other links for your pregame pleasure
Suns Attempt To Keep Good Times Rolling - SB Nation AZ
Without Cousins, who dropped 28 points when the Kings beat the Suns in Sacramento in early January, this game will get much easier for the Suns. The Suns have beat the Kings at home 10-straight times.