More photos » Matt York - AP
Let's try to make him miss more than shots. kthxbye. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Basically, it's the back end of a home-and-home set against the Grizzlies tonight (with a little Hawk sandwich in the middle). On top of that, it's a back end of back-to-back on the road. A double whammy.
Traditionally, it is very difficult for any team to sweep a home-and-home series, no matter any difference in talent. Almost always, the loser of game 1 comes back with a vengeance in game 2, and conversely the winner of game 1 has a bit less to play for.
The Suns barely squeaked out game 1 in thrilling fashion. Will game 2 go to the Grizzlies as a revenge of sorts? Or will the Suns have a mental edge on the Grizzlies still lingering from the first game?
The Grizz SHOULD have won game 1. The Suns SHOULD be coming back tonight with revenge in their hearts. But then Jason Richardson scored 5 points in 1.1 seconds and the Suns' magic was reborn.
And now here we are (courtesy of the espn's game day preview)
To confidently predict what happens in tonight's game is to be a Nostradamous-y.
The Suns COULD fall flat, since they just played 2 emotional, hard-fought games in a row and came out ahead in each.
The Suns COULD kick the Grizz' butts, since really Friday night was all about the Grizz at the start of the game. Can the Grizz fight back from an early hole the same way the Suns did? Do the Grizz have that much mettle?
One thing I think I can predict: the Grizz will give their second unit more minutes, at least in the first 3 quarters. They had at least 3 players go big, big minutes the other night and were visibly winded by the second overtime. Just in case it happens again, expect Hollins to make sure they get more rest earlier in the game.
Here's the lineups and stats leaders
One thing I would LIKE to see: How 'about keeping the opposing team's starting center to less than 90% shooting accuracy? Hmmm? What say you, Frye and Lopez?
Other previews and game day discussions:
Outside of one 18-point, 14-rebound burst against the Lakers, Robin Lopez has been largely invisible thus far in this young season. When you're seven feet tall, it's pretty damn difficult to stay invisible for long and it's time for Lopez to make his presence known. Seriously.
Who can forget that thrilling double-overtime classic between the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies played way back three days ago? Chances are Rudy Gay is going to remember how his team blew a four-point lead in the span of 1.1 seconds, thanks in large part to his missed free throw, which he followed with a made free throw that he tried to miss in order to run out the clock. Those are the kinds of mistakes young teams make while they are in transition from talented up-and-comer to a winning franchise.
More photos » Gregory Smith - AP
6 days ago: Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash (13) drives against Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game at Philips Arena, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)
And we thought our Suns would be much different than last year's team! HA!
In one respect, the Suns looked like the '09-'10 squad, blowing an 18 point lead in 5.5 minutes in the third quarter. What's more, in the waning seconds, it was looking as though the Suns were primed to lose the game the exact same way they did in Atlanta last year as they clung to a 2 point lead with 8 seconds left and the Hawks in possession.
But this is 2010, people. This time the Suns defense swarmed at a driving Joe Johnson who missed a floater in the lane. It was a free throw shooting contest from there, Suns 118-114
The Suns once again played a strong game with everyone contributing. Steve Nash tallied a season high 15 assists while chipping in 19 points and 5 rebounds. Jason Richardson led all scorers with 21 points, and the Suns bench dropped 46 points while the Hawks reserves managed only 19.
Early on it was a game of runs. The Suns scored 11 straight en route to a 17-8 advantage in the first. The Hawks responded with a 7-0 run of their own to close the lead to 2. In the second, Hedo Turkoglu keyed a 19-6 run with 8 points, including two 3's and the Suns went up 12, closing the half 61-50.
The Suns defense had been active, and although allowing the Hawks more than 50% shooting, had managed to keep anyone not named Al Horford in check. But in the 3rd, the slumping Joe Johnson exploded for 14 points, while Mike Bibby, and Jamal Crawford joined the 3-point party, draining 6 in the quarter, and erased an 18 point Suns lead.
The 4th was tightly contested. 7 straight Josh Childress points put the Suns up 104-98. But the Hawks scored on 6 consecutive possessions to tie the game at 108 with a minute left. After a Jamal Crawford bucket with 42 seconds left (he missed the 3 that would have given the Hawks their first lead since early in the opening quarter), the Suns called a timeout. Steve Nash found a mismatch with Channing Frye guarded by Mike Bibby. Frye hit a bank that put the Suns up for good.
Hedo-11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 3-pointers
Grant-14 points 6 rebounds
Frye-8/2/2, 2 big 3's and a big 2 over Bibby in crunch time
J-Chill-11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists in his return to the ATL
Dudz-15 points, 6 rebounds
Can you feel this team growing stronger and more confident? The word Chemistry was murdered in the preseason, but I think it's clear that Alvin Gentry and every one of the Phoenix Suns weren't only talking about whether the guys went out to eat together after a game or whether Nash and Hedo could play the two man game. Chemistry encompasses much more. This team is growing more confident individually, but most importantly, they are gaining faith and trust with one another. These past two games have been against non-elite squads, and that certainly helps. Yet the Grizzlies and Hawks are not bad NBA teams.
And lastly, if you were on the thread tonight, you probably read Seth's comment on Robin Lopez. The reports are that Robin is struggling in main part due to his back. I'm paraphrasing obviously, but it makes a lot of sense, and if you have a condition with your spine (I do), you can understand that overcoming an injury like this is both mental and physical, not unlike Amare returning from his knee issues. Even if you are playing without pain, there is a hesitance that comes with attempting to move in a specific way. You doubt you can do something, so you do not try to do it. It's probably a poor explanation, but if you've been through it, you know what it's like...
Next up tomorrow, the Grizz again. Get some sleep, people it could go to two overtimes again.