Tonight your Phoenix Suns look for their 3rd victory in a row, while hoping to enter the All Star break with some sort of momentum for the second half of the season. The Suns enter tonight's game winners of two straight over the Lakers and Wizards, while the Warriors are enjoying a rare victory over a quality squad in the L.A. Clippers. Ekpe Udoh was the hero Monday night, starting in place of the disappointing Andris Biedrins, hitting for a career high 19 points.
The Golden State Warriors haven't won in Phoenix for 7 (seven) years. However, the Suns and Dubs have split the season series thus far, with the Bay City Rollers winning the last matchup on their home court. It was a typical Suns effort: start strong-waver-fight back-fade. While Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry were held in check, David Lee was huge, with 28 and 12 in 41 minutes. In the first matchup back in January, the Suns used a balanced attack to defeat the Warriors in the desert. And yes, Lee was out ill and the Suns outrebounded the Dubs 49-36 overall, with the Suns picking up 16 offensive boards.
Now at the halfway point of the season and the All Star break beginning tomorrow, the players and coaches are asessing the season thus far along with hopes for a second half run at the playoffs. Here's what some of the boys had to say recently:
Grant Hill (on 9 straight at home, 6 against squads with sub .500 records)
"You can go into the break feeling good about yourself. Things happen when you have some momentum. In spite of how we've played thus far, if we can get this win (Wednesday night) -- which is a very winnable game... we'll see what we can do when we get back...we did it a couple years ago. I've been on teams where you're rolling into the break and feeling good and get some confidence. You get re-energized, refocused and healthy. You get some rest and you're ready to go when you get back so it's a big game for us."
"Like Steve (Nash) said, we're not talented enough to just cruise and turn it on and off. We have to play a certain way the whole game and get into a rhythm."
"Obviously, it'd be nice to go on a three-game win streak after the (four-game) losing streak. Hopefully, we can come out of the break with those three wins and feel like we can turn the corner."
"Coach has led the charge in being positive. He's consistent day in and day out as far as his mood. He's always upbeat. That plays big throughout the team. "
The Warriors and Suns have similar records and have some similar challenges in the Pacific Division. Both squads are in the negatives in scoring and rebounding differential. The Warriors do have the advantage in three point shooting and Dave Chappelle appearances, nevertheless, both teams are currently on the outside of the WC playoff race.
The geniuses over at Basketball-Reference have crunched the numbers to create a "Playoff Probability Report." The stat geeks ran 1000 simulations of the remainder of the season and came up with some interesting projections:
||W||L||W-L%||CURRENT||REMAIN||BEST||WORST||PLAYOFFS||DIVISION||TOP SEED||WIN CONF||WIN FINALS||WIN LOTTERY|
Here's what these numbers stand for:
•W and L are the average number of wins and losses, respectively, that the team had in the 1000 simulations.
•Current is the team's curent W-L record.
•Remain is the team's projected W-L record the remainder of the season.
•Best is the team's best W-L record in the 1000 iterations.
•Worst is the team's worst W-L record in the 1000 iterations.
•Playoffs is the percentage of times the team made the playoffs in the 1000 iterations.
•Division is the percentage of times the team won their division in the 1000 iterations.
•Top Seed is the percentage of times the team was the top seed in their conference in the 1000 iterations.
•Win Conf is the percentage of times the team won the conference playoffs in the 1000 iterations.
•Win Finals is the percentage of times the team won the NBA Finals in the 1000 iterations.
•Lottery is the percentage of time the team won the draft lottery in the 1000 iterations.
The Takeaways (all based on 1000 simulations)
Happy joy, right? I guess not. I post these numbers partially out of fun, but we all know that the numbers don't always tell the whole story or all of the truth. That's why they play the game, folks.
Check for the game thread 30 minutes prior to game time.