Suns @ Bucks

  • Records: PHX 27-18 (2nd, Pacific); MIL 8-36 (last, NBA)
  • Time: 5 p.m. PST, 6 p.m. MST, 7 p.m. CST, 8 p.m. EST
  • TV: Fox Sports Arizona

Previous Meeting

Jan. 4 - The teams first meeting was a very emotional night for fans and players alike as Caron Butler made his first trip back to the Valley of the Sun since being traded away. However, the Suns were still able to pull out a 116-100 win. Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo and Butler combined for 61 points on 21-34 shooting. However, Gerald Green (24 points) and Channing Frye (22) were hot for the Suns as well. The difference in that game was turnovers as the Bucks forked over the ball an insane 26 times leading to 17 more shot attempts for Phoenix than Milwaukee.

Injury Report

The Suns will be without Eric Bledsoe and Emeka Okafor, but you already knew that. The Bucks have a bit more to worry about. Carlos Delfino and Ekpe Udoh are both out and Zaza Pachulia is doubtful. O.J. Mayo and Larry Sanders are both listed as questionable with illnesses.

Suns


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Goran Dragic 41 34.8 6.9 14.0 49.5 1.3 3.6 37.4 4.3 5.5 77.4 1.0 2.4 3.4 6.1 2.8 1.4 0.2 2.4 19.4
Eric Bledsoe 24 33.5 6.3 13.0 48.6 1.2 3.3 35.0 4.2 5.3 78.9 0.4 3.8 4.3 5.8 3.3 1.5 0.3 2.5 18.0
Gerald Green 44 28.0 4.9 11.2 43.9 2.4 6.4 37.0 1.7 2.0 84.1 0.4 2.6 3.0 1.6 1.5 0.9 0.7 2.8 13.9
Markieff Morris 43 25.0 4.7 9.8 48.2 0.4 1.1 34.7 2.9 3.7 78.1 2.0 4.0 6.0 1.7 1.6 0.9 0.6 2.6 12.7
Channing Frye 44 28.3 4.5 10.0 45.5 2.3 5.4 42.0 1.0 1.3 78.6 1.0 4.3 5.3 1.0 1.1 0.8 0.8 3.1 12.4
Marcus Morris 44 22.1 3.5 8.1 42.7 1.3 3.4 36.9 1.6 2.0 78.4 1.2 3.1 4.2 1.0 1.2 1.0 0.3 2.1 9.7
Miles Plumlee 44 27.8 4.3 8.3 51.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 2.3 51.0 2.6 6.2 8.8 0.6 1.5 0.7 1.5 2.6 9.7
P.J. Tucker 44 30.3 3.3 7.9 41.6 1.0 2.3 41.2 1.9 2.5 78.7 2.1 4.0 6.1 1.9 1.3 1.2 0.3 2.4 9.4
Leandro Barbosa 9 21.3 3.4 8.6 40.3 0.2 1.3 16.7 1.6 2.0 77.8 0.4 1.8 2.2 2.0 0.9 0.6 0.3 1.7 8.7
Ish Smith 32 13.1 1.6 4.4 35.7 0.0 0.5 5.9 0.3 0.5 52.9 0.4 1.2 1.6 2.3 1.0 0.7 0.2 0.8 3.4
Archie Goodwin 36 10.3 1.2 3.2 38.3 0.1 0.8 10.7 0.5 0.8 66.7 0.4 1.3 1.7 0.4 0.9 0.4 0.2 0.7 3.0
Dionte Christmas 22 6.7 0.8 2.0 39.5 0.3 1.0 26.1 0.5 0.5 83.3 0.4 0.9 1.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.6 2.3
Alex Len 16 7.2 0.8 1.7 48.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.8 75.0 1.2 1.0 2.2 0.1 0.6 0.1 0.3 1.4 2.2
Viacheslav Kravtsov 17 3.1 0.4 0.7 58.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.5 50.0 0.4 0.4 0.8 0.1 0.4 0.0 0.1 0.4 1.1

The Suns are a pretty balanced team, with some good-looking numbers up and down the roster. Goran Dragic will be the best player in this game.

Bucks


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Brandon Knight 36 30.6 5.7 13.8 41.6 1.5 4.4 33.3 2.9 3.6 80.8 0.6 3.1 3.7 4.6 2.8 1.0 0.2 1.9 15.8
O.J. Mayo 41 27.5 4.5 11.3 39.6 1.6 4.4 36.3 1.7 1.9 87.3 0.6 2.0 2.6 2.4 2.1 0.6 0.3 2.1 12.2
John Henson 36 27.7 5.2 9.8 53.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.6 2.8 57.4 2.5 5.7 8.2 1.6 1.5 0.6 2.2 2.4 12.1
Khris Middleton 44 28.9 4.2 9.5 43.8 1.2 3.0 39.7 1.2 1.5 80.6 0.7 3.4 4.1 1.8 1.3 1.1 0.4 2.7 10.8
Caron Butler 28 23.9 3.9 10.3 38.1 1.4 4.2 32.2 1.3 1.5 83.7 0.5 4.1 4.7 1.8 1.6 0.7 0.3 2.0 10.5
Gary Neal 24 20.3 3.5 9.2 38.5 1.5 3.8 40.7 1.5 1.8 83.3 0.2 1.6 1.8 1.6 1.3 0.1 0.0 0.8 10.1
Ersan Ilyasova 34 26.5 3.8 10.0 37.8 0.6 2.4 24.7 1.2 1.5 78.8 1.7 3.7 5.5 1.3 1.5 1.0 0.1 2.2 9.4
Giannis Antetokounmpo 39 23.7 2.5 5.5 44.9 0.5 1.5 30.0 1.6 2.3 71.1 1.2 3.5 4.7 1.8 1.7 0.7 0.8 2.4 7.0
Zaza Pachulia 17 25.1 2.2 6.2 36.2 0.0 0.1 0.0 2.5 2.6 93.3 2.8 3.8 6.5 1.8 1.7 0.9 0.3 2.5 6.9
Larry Sanders 17 24.7 2.6 6.3 42.1 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.1 2.5 45.2 2.2 4.2 6.4 0.9 1.2 0.8 1.8 3.3 6.4
Luke Ridnour 33 22.1 2.5 6.5 39.4 0.8 2.0 37.9 0.4 0.6 68.4 0.5 1.4 1.8 3.6 1.3 0.7 0.1 1.5 6.2
Nate Wolters 33 19.5 2.4 5.9 40.2 0.1 0.9 10.3 1.2 1.7 68.4 0.5 1.5 1.9 3.2 0.9 0.7 0.3 0.8 6.0
Miroslav Raduljica 31 11.1 1.8 3.1 57.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 1.3 82.9 1.3 1.2 2.4 0.5 0.5 0.2 0.3 1.8 4.6
Ekpe Udoh 33 20.7 1.5 3.7 40.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 1.4 64.4 1.7 2.3 4.0 0.8 1.0 0.4 1.1 2.4 3.8

The Bucks on the other hand ...

Look at those shooting percentages. Look at them.

Bottom Line

The Bucks have the worst record in the NBA. They're the worst offensive team in the NBA, barely cracking 90 points per game. They have exactly one win versus Western Conference teams. They will be short-handed, and they didn't have much talent to begin with.The Bucks have some perimeter players who can put up some points (Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Caron Butler, Gary Neal) but the best of them shoots just 43 percent from the field, meaning it takes a lot of shots to get those points.

The Suns have to win this game, plain and simple.

Projected Starting Lineups

G: Goran Dragic - Brandon Knight

G: Gerald Green - Khris Middleton

F: P.J. Tucker - Giannis Antetokounmpo

F: Channing Frye - Ersan Ilyasova

C: Miles Plumlee - John Henson

Key Matchups

  • Suns perimeter defense vs. Bucks perimeter players: As long as the Suns guards make things tough on Milwaukee's guards, the Bucks should have trouble scoring enough to keep pace. The Bucks don't need much encouragement to take bad shots, but a little encouragement certainly doesn't hurt.
  • Whoever vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Greek sensation is one of the most intriguing players in the game. I'm looking forward to seeing him play for the first time regardless of what he does in this game.
  • Plumlee, Frye and Len vs. John Henson: Henson is a very nice young player who can do some damage on offense, defense and the glass if you don't keep him in check.

Time to stretch this road game winning streak to three.

A few years ago, a buddy of mine nicknamed Jason Richardson "The Barometer", because the Suns were undefeated every time he scored at least 20 points or something like that. Last season, there wasn't a barometer: the weather always sucked and if the Suns took the court, losing was generally in the forecast. This season however, the winds of fortune are favoring the Purple Gang and the key to their success might surprise you.

In looking at the statistical splits for all of Phoenix's players between wins and losses, most of the Suns are remarkably consistent. Within a couple of points, the scoring doesn't fluctuate too much and neither do many of their other statistics. This is a remarkably balanced and surprisingly consistent squad offensively. With of course, one notable exception.

Ladies and gentlemen, your barometer for the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns... Markieff Morris!

Keef_win_loss_split_1282014_medium

Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.

The difference between his numbers in wins and losses is staggering when compared to the rest of the team. It's almost as if the Suns' offense goes as Keef's offense goes. That six points per game differential is huge for a team that averages a 3.3 points more than their opponents on a nightly basis.

That Markieff is a key component of the Suns' success or failure is not a huge surprise given that he's their sixth man. The big surprise for me was discovering exactly how much of an impact his play differs in wins and losses. It makes a little more sense when you consider that in addition to being 6th on the team in minutes, he's 4th in field goal attempts. So when his shooting drops off as much as it does, from .536 to .390, that's a lot of lost points. With Eric Bledsoe sidelined, it would seem a large share of his offensive load has been thrown Keef's way. But it isn't even the amount of the Suns offense he accounts for that's most amazing... it's how he does it.

Keef_shot_chart_wins_medium

Keef_shot_chart_losses_medium

Those are Morris's shot charts in wins and losses. On the one hand, it's no shocker that he shoots worse from 3 point range in losses. What is astounding is that in Suns' wins, Markieff takes twice as many dreaded "long 2s", the least efficient shot in the NBA. And then makes them at the ridiculous clip of 47.8%! He's also far more successful at the rim in those games, making almost 70% of his shots there as opposed to a paltry 46% in losses. You read that right. When Keef is on, he's a better shooter from the mid-range than he is at the rim.

It's fun to throw out the Melo Morris jokes in game threads, but it turns out there's a grain of truth behind that silliness. When Morris goes into Melo mode, he's actually a more effective player. I haven't watched enough of his footage (paging Jacob Padilla!) to figure out if the inside game gets his outside shot going or if a couple of exterior makes gives him room to drive, but it bears watching going forward this season.

I don't have a magic barometric number for Markieff's success like we did for Richardson's 20 points per game. But I think it's safe to say that if you see a few of those midrange jumpers drop for Keef, it's a good bet the Suns will be shining at the end of the game.

After finishing up his second of two 10-day contracts, Leandro Barbosa agreed to sign with the Phoenix Suns for the rest of the 2013-14 season, the team announced Tuesday. Barbosa used nine games to...

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After finishing up his second of two 10-day contracts, Leandro Barbosa agreed to sign with the Phoenix Suns for the rest of the 2013-14 season, the team announced Tuesday. Barbosa used nine games to...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

Time to recap the week that was with quotes, stats, a 2014 NBA Draft Update, a preview of the week ahead, and much more as we get to the Center of the Sun...

Over the past few weeks I have been on a bit of a hiatus from attending the live events and on here with you Bright Siders. I apologize for that and will be back on track soon. Like the Phoenix Suns (26-18) getting back on track with a signature win and playing pretty well sans Eric Bledsoe for now.

Game Recaps

vs. Indiana Pacers - W (124-100) Full Recap

vs. Washington Wizards - L (95-101) Full Recap

@ Cleveland Cavaliers - W (99-90) Full Recap

@ Philadelphia 76ers - W (124-113) Full Recap

The Suns deserve a lot of credit for the way they played last week going 2-1 in a week that could have easily been the start of a decline from their current playoff position. The Pacers are a top tier team and the Wizards are formidable as we all found out.

Even the Cavaliers have 2-3 All-Star caliber players with quality talent around them.

Since dropping three games in a row on the road the team is 4-2 with impressive wins over the Pacers and Nuggets. Coach Jeff Hornacek is getting the best out of this bunch despite being short-handed minus Bledsoe. Now that the team has figured out the style and rotation for the most part they are a tough match-up for any team, because they are unpredictable.

That is a double-edged sword though for the team.

It is good because opponents do not know what to expect outside of the fast pace style and tempo. Teams are knocked back on their heels and the Suns have the potential to push them completely over throughout a game as we have seen. Then again it is a curse because on any given night Coach Hornacek does not know which team is going to show up. Such an odd dynamic that, to this point, has worked for the Suns over the past six games.

Key Stat

11-16 Threes

Against the Pacers everything went right and it was the biggest win of the season to date for the Suns. This team has so many barometers that saying that three point shooting is "the" barometer is unfair, because it is not. Energy, rebounding, the Morri performance, and other factors play into this teams success. The three point shooting has to be near or at the top of the list though. One game they can go 11-16 and then the next 7-22 and shoot themselves right out of a game. Overall the team is different, more efficient, and better when they shoot under 20 threes a night and close (or over) 40% collectively.

When they don't... Bad things happen.

Quote of the Week

I thought they played hard, we made eleven threes - which we needed to make shots against this team, but we only took 16. It wasn't like we were just jacking them up, we took good shots. Against a good team you have to take the good shots, you can't take any crazy ones. They played for all 48 minutes." -- Coach Hornacek after the Indiana win.

2014 NBA Draft Update

Surrogate Watch continues and the Suns have three first round picks with the current projections, none of which are in the lottery. A slight change of pace from pre-season projections. Here is the update on how the three picks look right now:

Minnesota Timberwolves (21-22) -- No. 12 Overall (Pick stays in Minnesota based on Protections) James Young, Freshman Wing Kentucky - Sharp shooter that will help the Wolves spread the floor between Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.

Washington Wizards (21-22) -- No. 17 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) Dario Saric, Forward Croatia - I feel like we have discussed Saric for a while on here and he is still tall, versatile, and a very talented prospect.

Phoenix Suns (25-18) -- No. 22 Overall (Pick stays in Phoenix based on Protections) Jabari Bird, Freshman Wing California - Athletic, two-way wing, that is just scratching the surface of his abilities as a freshman at Cal right now.

Indiana Pacers (34-9) -- No. 30 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) Jordan Clarkson, Junior Point Guard Missouri - The Suns have done a great job with athletic point guards in this system and the potential loss of of Eric Bledsoe (and Ish Smith) adding a talent like Clarkson can fill the void.

Keep following along here to get updates and information on the 2014 NBA Draft Class and more.

News & Notes

  • Leandro Barbosa was signed for the rest of the season this week
  • Archie Goodwin scored 32 points (15/18 free-throws) and 27 points in two games with the Bakersfield Jam, both losses

Suns History Lesson

This week in Suns History: January 27th, 1998 -- Hot Rod Williams fouled out in the first half against the Charlotte Hornets.

This week in Suns History: January 27th, 1989 -- Kevin Johnson started Suns record streak of 57 consecutive made free-throws that lasted until February 9th of that year.

Previewing the Week Ahead:

Monday, January 27th @ Philadelphia 76ers (14-30)

Wednesday, January 29th @ Milwaukee Bucks (8-35)

Thursday, January 30th @ Indiana Pacers (34-9)

Saturday, February 1st vs. Charlotte Bobcats (19-27)

Back on the road again, but with some very winnable games this week for the Suns who are keeping pace, surprisingly, with the middle of the Western Conference standings. So far this year the Suns are 4-0 against the teams they are playing this week with the most impressive win coming against the Indiana Pacers last week. The Bucks have lost 11/12, the 76ers 9/11, and the Bobcats 7/11 as the Suns have to be like a shark that smells blood with these teams.

We saw earlier in the season how the Suns let their guard down and lost to the Brooklyn Nets, the Sacramento Kings (twice), and the Utah Jazz when they were struggling and the Suns were clicking.

How about a 3-1 week and a 28-19 record?

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