It feels like it's been forever since the Phoenix Suns played a home game. They are just coming off of their longest road trip of the season and I guess we could say the 3 overtime games made it feel much longer. All in all, I'd say it was a successful trip. They routed the Bucks and Raptors and put away the Pacers and Nets thanks to two game winning daggers from Channing Frye. 4-2 ain't bad, they beat the teams they should have and gave it their best versus the Thunder and Celtics. Glad it's over though. I'm tired of seeing this team in Purple and Orange.
Now, their last home victory was to the Hawks on February 23rd. They've won 6 of their last 10 home games with losses coming to the Kings and Bobcats; teams they should have beaten. For the season they're 17-13 in Phoenix. See what I'm trying to say? They can do better. If the Suns are to make the playoffs they'll need to take care of business in their own arena; 17-13 is just bad. They should at least be 20-10. Of the 8 teams ahead of them all have no fewer than 20 wins and no more than 10 losses at home. So, slap on those white jerseys and protect your home-court Phoenix Suns!
I've got a lot of respect for these guys. They're small (which is good news for us), they've got no star talent (unless you think Kevin Martin and Luis Scola are stars) and they're tough, really tough. Although, not the most talented squad out there (33-32) they're never easy to put away. They'll play you hard, they'll get physical. They never give up, never surrender! They've also got their eyes on that 8th seed and believe they can get it as evident of their 7-1 record since the all-star break. They will come out hungry and aggressive.
The Last time these two teams met was in the BC(Before Carter) times. The Suns won 123-116. Aaron Brooks did not play that game and J-Rich was the leading scorer. Warrick also contributed 10 and 5 in 18 minutes on 3-7 shooting including 4-6 on the line. I expect him to see more minutes tonight. This will be a very interesting game as both teams have changed a lot since then.
Vince Carter vs. Kevin Martin- Kevin's dangerous. I can see him lighting us up. Not so sure VC can handle him, but we'll see.
Grant Hill vs. Chase Budinger- Grant Hill has done so much for this team and he did a pretty good job against Durant holding him to just 15 points, but he's old and can only do so much. He's spent so much effort on the defensive end that his offense has suffered. Budinger isn't exactly a handful though. Grant should be able to focus more on his offense in this one.
Mickael Pietrus/Hakim Warrick? vs. Luis Scola- Scola is only 6'9 although I think Gortat can guard him and will be getting that assignment tonight. Warrick should get the starting nod this game. Scola is a good defender, but like I said he's not that tall. Hakim has proved in the past that he can dominate big guys, it's the tall, lanky ones that bother him. Luckily for him the Rockets don't have any of those.
The Ultimate Showdown!
Aaron Brooks vs. Goran Dragic- Remember the Slovenian Sun? The Dragon? Frosty? Remember how he used to be a reliable, confident, backup PG a year ago? Well so far he looks like he's returned to those ways with the Rockets. He's scored 10, 12 and 9 in about 18mpg in his last 3 games with them. Not too shabby. Araon Brooks hasn't been too shabby either. In 5 games with the Phoenix Suns he's averaged 8.8ppg and 3.6apg on 55, 45, and 87% shooting. Not only that, but his presence alone has ignited the Suns bench into the dangerous, scrappy and explosive force it use to be prior to when Dragic was having confidence issues.
There's reason to believe that Goran may have it out for his former team because they traded him without letting him have any idea they were going to. He thought he was supposed to be the future of the Phoenix Suns and perhaps he was, time will tell if this trade was a mistake. However, there's more reason to believe that Aaron Brooks has got it out to take down his former Rockets, a team that he once previous led and carried on those small, beautiful shoulders :) If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on the proven leader.
The Suns need to come out strong and set the tone for this game. They need to be the aggressor. This is their home-court and they need to take advantage of that. Meaning they have to run, attack the paint and dunk the freakin’ ball ( I'm talking to you Lopez!)! With a 6'7, 6'9 and 6'6 front-line these Rockets aren't big. Gortat, Lopez and Warrick shouldn't have a hard time getting points in the paint. They try to win this game by the perimeter and they're screwed because Scola is a guy who can also punish them in the paint, not to mention Kevin Martin.
This is going to be a rough stretch without Channing Frye. Someone off the bench will need to step up and take his place. Depending on the match-ups it could be Warrick, Pietrus and even Dudley. Hopefully, Vince Carter can play like he did against the Thunder more often. Steve Nash is also hurting. This is a great opportunity for Brooks to earn his stripes because we'd like to see Nash get as much rest as possible. It all starts here against the Rockets in a game Scott Howard says we must win and he's right...
To the good old days...
To the days to come...
And here's some links-
[Note by Seth Pollack, 03/08/11 11:56 AM MST ]
Video from today's shoot around via SBN AZ TV: