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Suns dropped a preseason game in OKC to the Thunder.

When: Tonight 5PM PST, 8PM PST

Where: BOK Arena. Tulsa, OK

TV: None locally

Local Radio: 620AM

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in an away game that is sure to test the mettle of the newly-formed, Nash-less squad from Planet Orange. The Suns have been impressive in their last two games, especially the starting five, but tonight will be their biggest test to date against one of the most talented teams in the league.

Like the Suns, the Thunder are coming off a Wednesday win of their own against the Charlotte Bobcats, who they pummeled 120-98...with only three of their four stars (Harden sat out with a groin injury). Although a win against the lowly Bobcats hardly seems worthy of bragging about, there is little question about the potency of OKC. The Suns will need to continue playing fast and aggressive on offense, while also tightening up their defense and re-bounding if they are going to pull out a win tonight.

Probable Starters:

Goran Dragic vs. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic and electrifying point guards in the NBA. He is extremely fast and strong for his size, and when he chooses to attack the basket he is one of the most difficult players to guard. Dragic will no doubt have his hands full playing against Westbrook tonight, but just like Russell, Goran is also very adept at slashing to the rim using his speed, athleticism, and craftiness to score inside. But unlike Westbrook, Dragic has proven to be a true point guard who is deadly as both a passer and a scorer. This should be a great match-up to watch.

Jared Dudley vs. Lazar Haywood

Thabo Sefalosha is still rehabbing a deep thigh bruise, and may or may not play in tonight's game. If he continues to sit, the Thunder could once again go with Lazar Haywood who they started in Sefalosha's place against the Bobcats, since James Harden is also questionable with a groin injury. Dudley has been quietly effective and efficient over the last two games, but hasn't really stood out yet...that could change tonight. If neither Sefalosha or Harden play tonight, Jared Dudley should be able to take advantage of this match-up and be one of the go-to guys on offense.

Michael Beasley vs. Kevin Durant

Michael Beasley has played very well in his first three games as a Sun. He has shown that he can not only be the scorer everyone knows he can be, but also an effective facilitator as well. Kevin Durant might just be the best all-around player in the NBA, so expect Beasley to have his hands full tonight. Still, Beasley should score his fair share of points for the Suns as well.

Luis Scola vs. Serge Ibaka

Scola has shown that he is every bit the savvy, crafty vet Phoenix hoped for when they placed the winning bid for him in the amnesty lottery. Scola has shown his talent and skill around the basket and from the perimeter as well. Scola may need to bring his mid-range game tonight as he will be tested mightily tonight against Ibaka who has never met a shot he couldn't swat. This should also be a good matchup to keep an eye on.

Marcin Gortat vs. Cole Aldrich

Kendrick Perkins is sidelined while recovering from a wrist surgery he had during the off-season, and the Thunder are looking for Cole Aldrich to step up and fill the void. Aldrich was fairly impressive in the first two preseason games, registering a double-double in each. However, he scored 0 points and grabbed only 5 rebounds in the 19 minutes he played against the Bobcats, so the jury's still out on just how effective he will be. As for Gortat, he also has a lot to prove. Can he show that he is still the same player with or without Nash? Going up against an inexperienced big like Aldrich should allow Gortat to showcase his skills and ability.

Keys to the Game:

  • Containment - Can Dragic contain Westbrook on defense while still remaining aggressive on offense? How will Beasley fare against the Durantula? The key to stopping the Thunder will be holding these two in check. Although both Durant and Westbrook are expected to play no more than a half, they are both potent scorers who can quickly change the outcome of a game. Meanwhile, Dragic and Beasley will not only have to effectively defend these two superstars, they will likely both have to score or facilitate most of the Suns' points on the offensive end as well.
  • Rebounding - The Suns have not yet shown that they can be reliable at securing the ball, and have given up too many second and third shot attempts. Gortat and Morris are the Suns' best rebounders, and the Suns will need a good game from both of them on the boards if they are going to pull out a win tonight.
  • The Bench - The Suns bench thus far has failed to produce at a comparable level to the starters. With Shannon Brown's status still uncertain at the moment, the Suns will need a big comeback game from Markieff Morris and Wesley Johnson along with smart and efficient point guard play from the backups to stave off the Thunder's young bench.

Phoenix Will certainly have their hands full tonight in Oklahoma City. This game should be a formidable test for the new-look Suns to determine whether or not they can hang with one of the powerhouses of the NBA, at least in terms of the preseason, that is.


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When: Tonight 5PM PST, 8PM PST

Where: BOK Arena. Tulsa, OK

TV: None locally

Local Radio: 620AM

Tonight, the Phoenix Suns will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in an away game that is sure to test the mettle of the newly-formed, Nash-less squad from Planet Orange. The Suns have been impressive in their last two games, especially the starting five, but tonight will be their biggest test to date against one of the most talented teams in the league.

Like the Suns, the Thunder are coming off a Wednesday win of their own against the Charlotte Bobcats, who they pummeled 120-98...with only three of their four stars (Harden sat out with a groin injury). Although a win against the lowly Bobcats hardly seems worthy of bragging about, there is little question about the potency of OKC. The Suns will need to continue playing fast and aggressive on offense, while also tightening up their defense and re-bounding if they are going to pull out a win tonight.

Probable Starters:

Goran Dragic vs. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic and electrifying point guards in the NBA. He is extremely fast and strong for his size, and when he chooses to attack the basket he is one of the most difficult players to guard. Dragic will no doubt have his hands full playing against Westbrook tonight, but just like Russell, Goran is also very adept at slashing to the rim using his speed, athleticism, and craftiness to score inside. But unlike Westbrook, Dragic has proven to be a true point guard who is deadly as both a passer and a scorer. This should be a great match-up to watch.

Jared Dudley vs. Lazar Haywood

Thabo Sefalosha is still rehabbing a deep thigh bruise, and may or may not play in tonight's game. If he continues to sit, the Thunder could once again go with Lazar Haywood who they started in Sefalosha's place against the Bobcats, since James Harden is also questionable with a groin injury. Dudley has been quietly effective and efficient over the last two games, but hasn't really stood out yet...that could change tonight. If neither Sefalosha or Harden play tonight, Jared Dudley should be able to take advantage of this match-up and be one of the go-to guys on offense.

Michael Beasley vs. Kevin Durant

Michael Beasley has played very well in his first three games as a Sun. He has shown that he can not only be the scorer everyone knows he can be, but also an effective facilitator as well. Kevin Durant might just be the best all-around player in the NBA, so expect Beasley to have his hands full tonight. Still, Beasley should score his fair share of points for the Suns as well.

Luis Scola vs. Serge Ibaka

Scola has shown that he is every bit the savvy, crafty vet Phoenix hoped for when they placed the winning bid for him in the amnesty lottery. Scola has shown his talent and skill around the basket and from the perimeter as well. Scola may need to bring his mid-range game tonight as he will be tested mightily tonight against Ibaka who has never met a shot he couldn't swat. This should also be a good matchup to keep an eye on.

Marcin Gortat vs. Cole Aldrich

Kendrick Perkins is sidelined while recovering from a wrist surgery he had during the off-season, and the Thunder are looking for Cole Aldrich to step up and fill the void. Aldrich was fairly impressive in the first two preseason games, registering a double-double in each. However, he scored 0 points and grabbed only 5 rebounds in the 19 minutes he played against the Bobcats, so the jury's still out on just how effective he will be. As for Gortat, he also has a lot to prove. Can he show that he is still the same player with or without Nash? Going up against an inexperienced big like Aldrich should allow Gortat to showcase his skills and ability.

Keys to the Game:

  • Containment - Can Dragic contain Westbrook on defense while still remaining aggressive on offense? How will Beasley fare against the Durantula? The key to stopping the Thunder will be holding these two in check. Although both Durant and Westbrook are expected to play no more than a half, they are both potent scorers who can quickly change the outcome of a game. Meanwhile, Dragic and Beasley will not only have to effectively defend these two superstars, they will likely both have to score or facilitate most of the Suns' points on the offensive end as well.
  • Rebounding - The Suns have not yet shown that they can be reliable at securing the ball, and have given up too many second and third shot attempts. Gortat and Morris are the Suns' best rebounders, and the Suns will need a good game from both of them on the boards if they are going to pull out a win tonight.
  • The Bench - The Suns bench thus far has failed to produce at a comparable level to the starters. With Shannon Brown's status still uncertain at the moment, the Suns will need a big comeback game from Markieff Morris and Wesley Johnson along with smart and efficient point guard play from the backups to stave off the Thunder's young bench.

Phoenix Will certainly have their hands full tonight in Oklahoma City. This game should be a formidable test for the new-look Suns to determine whether or not they can hang with one of the powerhouses of the NBA, at least in terms of the preseason, that is.


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We're all familiar with the shortened and compressed season teams played last year as a result of the NBA lockout. There were so many games in such a short amount of time that practice time was severely limited. This was especially true for the Suns, who had three of the oldest players in the NBA on the roster in Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Michael Redd. Even when the Suns got on the court between games, rarely did they do more than some light conditioning and walk-throughs. Heck, the old guys sat out as often as they participated.

However, the old men are gone now, and in their place are young(er) studs capable of running all day long. According to Paul Coro, Alvin Gentry is taking full advantage of that fact.

#Suns practices have been more competitive & physical than at any point last season. Lockout schedule & older team wouldn't allow this tone.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) October 18, 2012

The regular 82-game season helps as well, but Gentry has to love not having to worry about the aches and pains of players almost as old as he is (ignore the fact that Jermaine O'Neal is on the team; Jared Dudley says he looks five years younger anyway).

Coro Tweeted another interesting tidbit about practice as well yesterday. As it turns out, Shannon Brown twisting his ankle may have been a blessing in disguise, at least for Brown.

Brown missed out on a bunch of running by being held out of practice for a mild ankle sprain. Gentry put team in check for arguing calls.

— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) October 18, 2012

I find it hard to believe this policy existed last year. I seem to remember a certain Canadian point guard who spent a great deal of time conversing with the referees. However, I don't recall him running lines afterward.

I like it. The transition defense is pretty horrid right now, so any little things helps. If he can get them to focus less on complaining to the refs and more on getting back in transition, maybe we'll give up fewer lay-ups. After all, Gentry complains enough for the entire team already (right Portland commentators?).

The team has a lot of new players in the rotation, so being able to replicate game situations in practice is a very valuable thing as Gentry prepares the team for the regular season. As the saying goes, practice like you play.


The 2012-13 NBA season kicks off in 12 short days, and optimism is swirling around the new-look Phoenix Suns. New faces always seem to breed optimism in and around a franchise, especially when that...

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The offseason is over. The endless conversations debating the free agent acquisitions and departures of the new-look Phoenix Suns are gone and now the young team is forced to prove its merit.

Jared Dudley, Michael Beasley, Shannon Brown and Wesley Johnson are the guys on the wing this year. This Suns team will either sink or swim depending on how these four key players contribute this season. Without strong showings night in and night out from these four, it will be tough for Phoenix to win enough games to contend for a playoff spot.

Jared Dudley

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It is a scary realization that Jared Dudley is currently the most tenured Phoenix Suns member. Since joining the team, Dudley has shown little to prove he can be someone to depend upon for scoring on a regular basis. As a role player, he could be valuable. Coming off the bench and providing some sparks late in games is what Dudley should be doing in the NBA. Last season, Dudley became a valuable role player forced to start on a team lacking depth.

Depth has been added. The Suns finally bolster a lineup of young, talented wings that have potential. They don't have the pressure of trying to give Steve Nash his ring and now they can try to develop a core that is energetic and eager to succeed. For Dudley, a successful season would be improving on his 12.7 points per game. His efficiency is crucial to his success this season, especially with fans around the Valley calling for the Suns to go after former Arizona State Sun Devil James Harden and the high flying Shannon Brown knocking on Dudley's doorstep.

Shannon Brown

Last season marked the first season in Brown's career where he averaged more than 10 points per game. Granted, he has been behind Kobe Bryant for a majority of his career. There were glimmers of Brown's potential last season. Most notably, his game against San Antonio in March of last season. That impressive outing featured Brown dropping 32 points and going 11-18 from the field.

Right now, it looks like Jared Dudley will begin the season as the starting shooting guard, but Brown could very easily snatch that spot if he shows more consistency this season.

Michael Beasley

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Michael Beasley is an enigma. He has shown talent in spurts, talent that made him the 2nd overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. He has to be comfortable with having pressure on him, able to hit those last second shots or be that go to guy when needed to be. It looks like he will be the person with the ball at the end of games for now.

I have high expectations for Beasley. As the number one scoring option in Phoenix, there is no reason why he can't score close to 20 points per game and combine that with at least five rebounds per game. Now, we probably won't see those numbers, but I am an optimist when it comes to the Suns. I can't help it.

Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson has the abilities to be a valuable role player for the Suns. He can knock down the outside shot and provide energy off the bench when needed, but he hasn't shown the talents to make him a starter in this league. The Timberwolves seemed like it was easy to part with Johnson, especially since they are bringing in Brandon Roy. Doesn't that say something about Johnson though? The Timberwolves had no problem trading him and they would rather bring back the injury-prone Brandon Roy from retirement than start Johnson for another season. Suns fans, including myself, are hoping that we stole a valuable role player who can come in and give depth to this young Suns team.

P. J. Tucker

I personally do not expect much from Tucker this season. After being waived by the Raptors, Tucker has spent the past five seasons playing in Israel and Europe. Although he has been impressive in those international stints, Tucker still has a way to go before he proves that he has NBA-level talent.

Summarizing the Wings

We want these guys to succeed. Nothing would please me more than seeing this group of young, talented wings pull off a special season and make the playoffs. Jared Dudley has to step up and provide more than he has, Shannon Brown must be consistent, Wesley Johnson needs to provide that spark off the bench and Michael Beasley has to be dependable. If these things happen, the Phoenix Suns could be competitive.

Dave's extra:

I wondered how close the top three wings coming into this season might compare to the top three wings coming into the 2005-06 season, after Raja Bell was added to Leandro Barbosa and Shawn Marion, like Michael Beasley was added Dudley and Brown this year. Obviously, this is totally throw-away, but I remember the 2005-06 season being one where the Suns were NOT picked for the playoffs after the loss of Stoudemire to microfracture. But instead they became the legendary '7 seconds or less' team centered around the play of the guards.

The table below compares the 2004-05 stats of Bell-Marion-Barbosa to the 2011-12 stats of Beasley-Dudley-Brown.

Wings-compare_medium

If you look at it closely, the top three wings on this year's Suns don't pale in comparison to the ones entering the 2005-06 season. The SSOL guys were better shooters but two of them were coming off a 62-win season in an offense tailor-made for them. Sure, the big difference is the point guard but with how impressive Dragic has been, I have to wonder how good of a season these guys can have around that perimeter.

Just something to chew on.

Poll
Which wing player will provide the most for the Suns this year?

  295 votes | Results


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