Denver has nothing on this guy.


In a shocking upset, the Phoenix Suns 3-on-3 team has advanced to the second round of SB Nation's NBA 3on3 Tournament by knocking off the No. 6 seed Denver Nuggets

In our preview I wrote about how the Suns should win this match-up on the strength of their pick-and roll. However, four out of the five judges saw it differently and the Suns were given only a 34 percent chance to win any one game. Since the Nuggets were the higher seed, all numbers 66 and below belong to Denver, while a roll of 67 or higher signifies a Suns victory.

As it turns out, the pick-and-roll (of the dice) did greatly favor the Suns and Phoenix won both games to sweep the Nuggets. Make the jump to see how the games played out.

In the first game, the dice came up 83. The final (made-up) score was 25-21 in favor of the Suns. Marcin Gortat was unstoppable in the pick-and-roll and scored 18 points all by himself. Goran Dragic finished with four points and Jared Dudley hit one 3-pointer.

In the second game, the dice came up 95. This time the Suns didn't need the full ten minutes as they came out on fire and hit the 31 point cap to end the game. The Nuggets focused their defense on shutting down Gortat by switching the screen and doubling him on the roll, which freed Dragic up to make plays off the dribble and left Dudley open on the perimeter. Dragic finished with 13 points, Dudley hit four 3-pointers for 12 points and Gortat only scored six points but dominated the glass for the Suns.

Enjoy this (hypothetical) win for now, because things get much tougher really soon. The Suns' second round opponent is the MVP-studded Los Angeles Lakers trio of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

Keep following along with tournament on the 3-on-3 Story Stream.


Marshall

Latest illustration featuring rookie PG Kendall Marshall. We lost one of the best passers in the history of the NBA but gained the best passer in this year's draft...so we have that going for us.

As always comments are welcome and appreciated and you can find more here.


You don't like us Kobe?  Don't worry, the feeling is mutual.

When I think of skullduggery relating to adversaries of the Suns four colors come to mind - gold, purple, silver and black. Hubris and heinousness. The braggadocios and the blackguards. The Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.

The Suns used to be the Lakers punching bag for many years after entering the league, but that dynamic changed somewhat after the Suns first playoff victory over the Lakers in 1990. Since then the Suns have actually won four of six playoff series against LA and only trail by a margin of 67-59 head to head overall.

The Spurs, on the other hand, still seem to be under the impression that the Suns are a punching bag. The seven seconds or less era was marred by a series of hard fouls, dirty play and low blows at the hands of the Spurs, who seemed to subscribe to the philosophy that if you're not cheating, you're not trying.

The Suns have been one of the most successful franchises since they joined the NBA. Despite never winning a championship, they have the fourth highest all-time winning percentage in the league. The Suns only have losing records against the Lakers, Spurs, Celtics and Bulls (by one game). The Suns have had scrapes with other opponents like the Celitcs, Bulls, Trailblazers, Jazz, Rockets and SuperSonics, but none of these have matched the drama, animosity, or enduring qualities of the matches against the Lakers and Spurs.

Feel free to throw a couple haymakers in the comments or add to my list of high (and low) lights in these rivalries. I know we are usually sanguine and affable here at BSotS, but take this as your license to let these teams know what you really think about them. Cast your vote in the poll, too. Those results along with the ensuing discussion will be featured in an article tomorrow as part of SB Nation's rivalry week.

Links have been provided for all of the incidents listed below. Enjoy or lament at your discretion.

Tale of the tape: Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers

All time regular season wins – Suns 91, Lakers 130.

All time playoffs wins – Suns 24, Lakers 38.

Suns have won 4 of last 6 playoff series, but are 4-8 overall.

The Suns have played more games against the Lakers (283) than any other team.

Kobe Bryant hates the Suns.

First round of 2006 playoffs - Raja Bell clotheslines Kobe in game five. Tim Thomas hits clutch three. Kobe Bryant quits on his team in game seven.

Paul Westphal’s prediction after game 2 of the first round in the 1993 playoffs.

Steve Nash becomes a perfidious traitor Laker.

Ron Artest tips in game winner during 2010 Western Conference Finals.

D’Antoni reacts to perceived slight by Phil Jackson "He might want to try to do it in playoff time when we bust 'em every time."

Tale of the tape: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs

All time regular season wins – Suns 72, Spurs 75.

All time playoffs wins – Suns 22, Spurs 25.

Suns are 4-6 in playoff series against the Spurs.

Barkley hits game winner over David Robinson in 1993 Western Conference Semifinals.

Nash plays with broken nose in game one loss in 2007 WC semifinals (injury is at 3:33). Robert Horry commits flagrant foul on Nash in game five of 2007 WC semifinals, Stoudemire and Diaw leave the "vicinity of the bench".

The commissioner sides with the San Antonio Sterns and suspends Stoudemire and Diaw for game five of the 2007 WC Semis. "But to listen to the palaver that Robert Horry changed the series is just silly. What changed the series is that Amare and Boris ran out onto the court." - David Stern.

2010 Western Conference Semifinals - One-Eyed Steve leads Suns to victory. The Dragon Slays the Spurs.

Bruce "Low Blowin’" is the dirtiest player in the NBA.

Tim Duncan finishes Suns off with unexpected three pointer in game one of 2008 first round playoff series.

Poll
Who is the Suns' biggest rival?

  363 votes | Results


Photo

Today is the day the Phoenix Suns take on the Denver Nuggets in the hypothetical, only-on-paper, win-or-go-home SB Nation NBA30n3 Tournament. The Suns are the underdogs coming into the match-up as a No. 11 seed against the No. 6 seed Nuggets. But now the teams have been judged and the odds are in, and the Suns really are an underdog.

Five judges broke down the match-up, and they have determined that the Suns only have a 34 percent chance to win any one game. I'm a little disappointed in the results, but I am not surprised.

Tom Ziller of SB Nation NBA and Sactown Royalty gave the Suns 5 out of 20 games.
Andrew Sharp of SB Nation gave the Suns 4 out of 20 games.

Sharp echoed Beavis's disbelief that the the Nuggets left Kenneth Faried at home for this team, but he also described the Suns line-up as "pretty impotent." OK.

Steve Perrin of SB Nation NBA and Clips Nation, and the tournament organizer, gave the Suns 9 out of 20 games.

Perrin gives the Nuggets the edge in talent here, but he believes as I do that the Suns' pick-and-roll would be really tough for them to stop.

C.A. Clark of Silver Screen and Roll gave Phoenix 12 out of 20 games.

Wow. The Lakers blogger is the only one that gave Phoenix the upper hand in this match-up. I feel kind of dirty. Either way, Clark echoed Perrin's thoughts and thought that the pick-and-roll would carry the Suns to victory.

J.A. Sherman of Welcome to Loud City gave the Suns 4 out of 20 games.

Sherman says the Suns aren't going to win many games, either in this format or in 5-on-5, with Goran Dragic as their best player. I don't see how Denver has anyone that is so superior to Dragic, but whatever.

Perrin thinks this is one of the most intriguing match-ups in the first round.

Some of these theoretical matchups are pretty straightforward. Two similar teams, where one has a massive talent edge, and we pretty much can imagine what would happen. But this series? Who knows? Gallo defending Gortat? Dragic defending Iggy? If I could pick one first round matchup that I magically get to make happen, this might be it, because I just want to know how it would play out. Which team gets to impose its will?

The Suns are hoping for high numbers. A roll of 67 or higher gives the Suns the win, while anything below that goes to the Nuggets. It's a best two out of three series, so we're going to have to get lucky twice. The winner should be announced at 2 p.m., so make sure to come back then to see if the Suns have moved on.


Expect plenty of these from Gortat against the smaller Nuggets line-up.


Almost two weeks ago we introduced you to SB Nation's NBA3on3 Tournament where hypothetical 3-man squads from each NBA team battle it out on paper to determine the ultimate 3-on-3 team.

30 teams were chosen by the 30 NBA blogs and two more teams were assembled using leftover players from each conference in order to get to the 32 needed to avoid including byes.If you want to see who the other blogs picked for their teams, go here.

Teams were seeded according to where they finished in the standings last season with the leftover teams being given the nine seed in each conference and bumping the rest of the teams down a spot. Here's a link to all the teams and their seeds.

Teams were organized into a bracket according to seed and conference. A handful of SBN NBA bloggers volunteered to sit on the judges' panel, and five of them are chosen to evaluate each match-up. The judges say how many games out of 20 they believe the higher-seeded team would win, and those numbers are added up to establish the teams' chance to win any one game. Percentile dice are used to judge the winner, and it takes two victories out of three to move on. So the underdog always has a chance.

All the rosters have been chosen, teams have been seeded and we are halfway through the first round of match-ups. Make the jump for a run-down of who has already advanced and a breakdown of the Suns' first round match-up with the trio from the Denver Nuggets.

So far, ten teams have moved on to the second round.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

EASTERN CONFERENCE

For details about the match-ups and each team's chances to win, be sure to check out the Story Stream. But now it's time to take a look at the only match-up you really care about.

6) Denver Nuggets vs. 11) PHOENIX SUNS

The Suns will take the hypothetical court for their first round series against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. Be sure to visit the Story Stream or check back here after the odds have been determined, but for now I'm going to tell you why the Suns should be favored in this match-up.

The Rosters:

PHOENIX SUNS
DENVER NUGGETS
GORAN DRAGIC ANDRE IGUODALA
6-FOOT-4, 190 LBS 6-FOOT-6, 207 LBS
11.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.5 APG
12.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.5 AP
JARED DUDLEY WILSON CHANDLER
6-FOOT-7, 225 LBS 6-FOOT-8, 225 LBS
12.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.7 APG 9.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.1 APG
MARCIN GORTAT DANILO GALLINARI
6-FOOT-11, 240 LBS 6-FOOT-10, 225 LBS
15.4 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 0.9 APG 14.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.7 APG

The Match-Ups:

For the Suns I chose a more traditional guard-wing-big line-up, while Nate Timmons from Denver Stiffs decided to go with a more unconventional three-wing line-up. The contrast of styles creates plenty of mismatches for both sides and should make for an interesting game.

1) Dragic vs. Iguodala

Goran Dragic has excellent size for a point guard, but since Nate decided to leave Ty Lawson at home he's going to have to man up and defend the bigger and more athletic Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala is an incredibly versatile player capable of locking down multiple positions and scoring in a variety of ways. Contrary to popular belief, he's a deadly spot-up shooter so Dragic won't be able to leave him open on the perimeter to help his teammates. Iguodala is also a capable pick-and-roll ball-handler and isolation scorer, so Dragic is going to have to work hard to stay with him. Dragic is a very effective defender (according to MySynergySports.com, Dragic and Iguodala both gave up 0.80 points per possession last year, and Iguodala is widely considered as one of the best defenders in the league), and I have faith he would be able to hold his own.

On the other end, Dragic is better than Iguodala in basically every offensive category other than spot up shooting (per Synergy). He's a good shooter, an excellent driver and a crafty finisher. He also excels as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, a play the Suns figure to use frequently. We've all seen what he's capable of when he gets hot.

This is a match-up of strength against strength on both sides of the ball, and would be a lot of fun to watch.

2) Dudley vs. Chandler

Chandler is pretty similar to Iguodala in that he's a versatile player with good size and athleticism who can do a little of everything offensively. He is good both with the ball in his hands in the pick-and-roll and working off the ball as a cutter and crashing the offensive glass. He's not a particularly good outside shooter, though. Dudley may be outmatched athletically here, but he has enough size and is a smart enough player to make Chandler work for everything he gets.

Chandler is not nearly the defender Iguodala is, however, and that's something the Suns could exploit with the ultra-efficient and versatile Dudley. Dudley is most deadly as a spot-up shooter where he shot 42.7 percent from 3-point range (per Synergy). He could see plenty of open looks if Chandler has to help his smaller teammates against the Dragic-Gortat pick-and-roll. Dudley is also good coming off of screens, posting up, cutting to the basket and crashing the offensive glass, so he provides a variety of offensive options for the Suns.

3) Gortat vs. Gallinari

This is the most intriguing match-up and could go a long way toward determining the winner. A mobile center versus a big wing is a mismatch both ways. Gallinari is similar to the other two in that he can handle the ball, run the pick-and-roll and score in isolation. However, he is probably the most skilled scorer of the three and is more of a jump-shooter. Gortat is very mobile for a big man and Synergy ranks him as a good pick-and-roll and spot-up shooting defender. He may struggle a bit staying with Gallinari outside, but he's also the best shot-blocker and rebounder on the court, which could mean good things for the Suns.

Gortat won't be easy for Gallinari to defend either. He has an extra inch or two and 20 or so pounds on him but still moves like a smaller man. He's no Al Jefferson in the post, but he's good enough to take advantage of a mismatch like this. He would be tough for Gallinari to step when cutting to the basket and crashing the offensive glass. And of course Gortat is one of the best pick-and-roll big men in the entire league.

Sun' Strategy

In this setting, the Suns absolutely need to pick-and-roll the hell out of the Nuggets. Nothing but pick-and-roll. Over and over again. The pick-and-roll is deadly enough in 5-on-5, but imagine the space they'll have to run it in 3-on-3. How are the Nuggets supposed to send help to stop Gortat from rolling to the rim on his smaller man?

Goran Dragic is going to have the ball in his hands most of the time, and it will be up to him to make things happen. He is deadly in the pick-and-roll and comes off the screen looking to take it to the hole with aggression. He's also a capable isolation scorer.

Part of the advantage of the Nuggets' three-wing line-up is the ability to switch all screens, but if they were to do that against the Dragic-Gortat pick-and-roll, it would play right into the Suns' hands. Doing so takes Denver's best perimeter defender and smallest player off of the Suns best ball-handler and puts him onto the Suns' biggest player. Iguodala is really good, but let's see him try to defend the much bigger Gortat rolling to the basket. This also puts Gallinari on Dragic, and I love that match-up for Phoenix. Meanwhile we have Jared Dudley out on the perimeter, spotting up for the 3-pointer if Chandler leaves him to help or cutting back door if Chandler falls asleep.

Versatility is nice, but I'd rather have my team be great in one area than good or okay in a few. Give me the Suns' pick-and-roll over anything the Nuggets can throw at them.

Don't forget, you can follow along with the tournament here.


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