As the actual games unfolded, the Phoenix Suns have looked - and felt - disappointed with some of the outcomes. But a 9-5 record after 14 games is really a solid start. Let's look at the rest of 2014.

Great expectations when bumped up against reality are generally met with disappointment.

Rarely does a team with high expectations still make every fan happy. And rarely does a team with high expectations make themselves happy.

Such was the case with the Phoenix Suns coming out of the gate this season. Realism aside, we hoped that the unusual lineup would mesh immediately, and that every player would pre-subjugate their egos for the good of team before finding out if those egos would fit without such sacrifice.

Suns dealt front-loaded road schedule

Will have to dig deep to stay in playoff race

Regardless of the meshing, the schedule itself was not an easy one even though the season started with a bunch of home games. When reviewing the schedule in August, I did not expect the Suns to dominate.

But despite the rocky start, the Phoenix Suns find themselves with a 9-5 record and a few more winnable games in the next 2 weeks before a tough roadie through Texas.

The first 10 - tougher than it looked


Coming out of the chute, we all wanted the Suns to take advantage of the home-heavy slate. But back in August I thought this schedule was a really tough one (minus the easy Laker games) and would have been happy with a 5-5 outcome.

A year ago, the Suns went 10-18 against their non-Laker season-opening opponents.

The Spurs, Jazz, Grizzlies, Kings, Warriors, Nets, Hornets and Clippers were tough on the Suns last season. I mean, you almost couldn't find a tougher group of opponents for this team. A year ago, the Suns went 10-18 against those opponents (and that includes the season-ending "Archie show" against the Kings).

Looking at it that way, a 5-5 record after 10 isn't so bad. I guess we should be satisfied they took care of the Lakers and found a way to go 3-5 against a group of teams that had the Suns number even when the chemistry was great a year ago.

The 6-game roadie


The Suns started the longest road trip of the season with a game against the Clippers, but then headed East with an opportunity to get a run going.

On paper, games against the lowly Celtics, Pistons, Sixers and Pacers should be a walk in the park. But road games are always tough because teams playing at home are playing with the crowd behind them. Luckily, the Suns were able to pull out wins against the Celtics and Pistons in the closing minute before laying the hammer on the Sixers and Pacers on consecutive nights.

The final game of the road trip is on Monday night, against the high-flying Raptors. The Raptors just came back to beat the "vaunted" Cavaliers on Saturday night to run their record to 11-2. They are built similar to the Suns, in that they rely mostly on guards for scoring while using their big men for the dirty work under the basket. They brought back the same team as a year ago, and are right now running roughshod over the league.

Winning that game would be a huge feat early in the season, right up there with beating San Antonio in week one and ahead of beating Golden State and Brooklyn. The Raptors are the real deal.

Even with a loss though, a 9-6 record after 15 games is solid. Not spectacular, but solid.

Coming up - what's your prediction?

The schedule through the end of the calendar year is actually pretty manageable.


The Suns have gone a collective 32-19 against these opponents in the past 1+ years (including this season's first 14 games). Their worst showings are against the Mavericks, Clippers and Kings, while they have swept the Nuggets, Magic, Pacers, Bucks and Pelicans under Hornacek.

I can see the Suns finishing the calendar year at 20-14 easily. With a good run of making their open shots, it's possible we will see an even better record than a year ago's start (21-13 through 34 games, including a 19-11 start before Bledsoe went down).

What's your prediction for the rest of 2014, now that you've seen this team in action?

The Suns demolished the shorthanded Pacers for their fourth straight win, 106-83, behind 23 points in 22 minutes from Gerald Green.

It's never easy to win the second end of a back to back on the road, even when the opponent is shorthanded, but the Suns did just that tonight in winning their fourth straight game behind a supernova performance from former Pacer Gerald Green. He scored 23, making 5 three-point shots in the process, performing like the best player on either team in his time on the floor.

He's become a bit of a bellwether for this Suns team, and Green made his presence felt in the first half with 18 points and 2 assists on 6-9 shooting (4-7 from 3) in only 9 minutes in the half.

The Pacers lost their leading scorer Roy Hibbert to injury midway through the first quarter, as Hibbert twisted and sprained his left ankle. Hibbert went back to the locker room with 6:40 to go in the first, came back for a bit but was clearly hobbled, then didn't return.

Phoenix just had too much for the Pacers tonight, and Green would not be denied. After an early 3-point barrage, the Pacers lacked the firepower to keep up once it became a shootout. Isaiah Thomas chipped in 16 points, and Markieff Morris 13 as the Suns routed the Pacers.

This wasn't much of a contest after a tightly contested first quarter featured the Pacers making 3s and crashing the offensive boards. Indiana made only 36% of their FGs, and 30% from 3, while the Suns converted at 45% and 39%. The game was played at the Suns pace, and more possessions favors Phoenix.

Dragic had a ho-hum night with 11, as Green and IT combined for 39, and the Suns bench provided the difference yet again. A 9-5 record feels good to me. Nothing like playing poor Eastern Conference opponents to get yourself right.

Player of the Game

Gerald Green

We all want to feel loved and appreciated. Nobody likes being rejected, and Green is no different. The Pacers gave up on Green, letting the Suns have him in the Scola trade. I can't get inside Green's head to know whether he feels extra motivation playing against Indy, but he sure played like it tonight.

He did so much more than score, with his 3 rebounds, 2 assists and countless hustle plays to go along with his prolific scoring. If there was a point he was proving, he proved it. The Suns were +24 when Green was on the floor tonight.

The next game will be much more difficult, Monday night vs. the 10-2 Toronto Raptors. For now, let's just enjoy this winning streak. When Green plays like a superstar, as he did tonight, the Suns will play with anyone in the league, and beat most.

Gerald Green scored 23 points in 22 minutes and the Phoenix Suns rested their starters in the fourth quarter for the second game in a row. A 106-83 win against the Indiana Pacers gave Phoenix its...

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The Friday night thrashing the Phoenix Suns gave the Philadelphia 76ers presented Jeff Hornacek the opportunity to save his best players’ legs. Isaiah Thomas led the Suns with 24 minutes...

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After an easy night downing the sorry Sixers in Philadelphia, the Suns roll into Indy to face a Pacers squad which lacks firepower but still brings the defense, and has won 4 of its last 5. Opening tip-off is 5PM AZ time.

The Indiana Pacers (5-7) fell from Eastern Conference contenders to also-rans after Lance Stephenson departed in free agency, then Paul George broke his leg playing a scrimmage for the US Men's National Team this past summer.

George and Stephenson were two of the three highest scorers on last season's Pacers squad. Stephenson was a key component for the Pacers' #1 rated defense while George was growing into a genuine superstar.

This year's Pacers are down from 1st to 8th in D-rating, and their never-all-that-impressive offense is down from 23rd to 25th, scoring only 101.1 points per 100 possessions, and only 91.6 per game. They've also slowed the pace even further, from 20th to 29th in the league, though they have won 4 of their last 5 games.

The Suns, meanwhile, are sputtering a bit on offense, scoring 105.2PPG due to a fast pace, but are just 15th in the league in O-rating. Chew on this, Suns fans: Our boys have a better defensive rating (13th) than offensive rating as we enter the 14th game of the season.

Last season, the Suns boat-raced (or, since it's Indy, car-raced?) the Pacers 124-100 in January, then beat them again 8 days later, 102-94. They did this by spreading the vaunted Pacers D, then attacking the paint with zeal. Gerald Green had a grand, old time devastating his former team. Roy Hibbert did not enjoy it quite so much.

It's funny how expectations work. Last season's Suns were like found money to us fans as they blew low expectations out of the water. This season, 8-5  so far somehow feels disappointing.

For the Pacers, the losses of George and Stephenson obviously ratcheted expectations way back, and now some of their fans are holding a "Hey, we don't totally suck!" sentiment.

Keys to the Game

  • The Green Machine: Will we see the "OMG, Gerald Green!" or the "WTF, Gerald Green?" tonight? Green started both of those wins vs. the Pacers last season in Bledsoe's absence, and responded with 23 and 16 point outings. How will Green fare off the bench tonight?
  • Ah, push it. Push it real good: Despite playing last night, the Suns will need to get up on this and push the pace on the plodding Pacers. It's not as if the Suns starters had to break much of a sweat in downing the putrid 76ers last night, so run, run, and then run some more. Get in those passing lanes to create turnovers, then attack.
  • Which of the three-headed monster will bring it? Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are three of the Suns four highest scorers, but each has been up and down so far. IT has cooled after his fast start while Dragic seems to be hitting his stride. Who will have the hot hand tonight?
  • Plumlee and Len vs. Hibbert: He's the Pacers leading scorer at 14.0 PPG, but Hibbert isn't any kind of offensive juggernaut. The Plum-Len duo should be able to play him to at least a draw, though the Pacers center is enjoying a bit of a Renaissance after his collapse late last season.
  • Ball movement: This will be a continuing theme for the Suns all season. It's nice to have three great PGs and, theoretically, such a roster should be able to pass it around for open shots, but that hasn't always been the case. All three are shoot-first players to varying degrees, which is fine because they can all light it up, but the Suns will have to play smarter on offense. 15th in O-rating won't cut it.

Probable Starters


Suns win ugly, 102-98

Game time: 5PM AZ
Television: Fox Sports AZ and NBA League Pass
Radio: KTAR 98.7FM will feature the dulcet tones of Al McCoy. Shazam! It's twine time!

Join us in the game thread for all the fun, starting at 4:30PM.

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