Create the caption! (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

This week, the Suns face the brutality of NBA life after a long lockout: every team has at least one "3-games-in-3-nights" series on their 2011-2012 schedule. The Suns (12-15) have 2 such opportunities for fun this season - the first kicking off with tonight's game against the Warriors (10-14) in California.

While real-life data shows that, so far, 3-in-3 isn't much different than any other scheduling phenomenon - thanks to some research by BSotS' own 7footer - the Suns happen to be sporting two of the oldest players in the NBA in Grant Hill and Steve Nash. Gentry will have to monitor their minutes, possibly even sitting one or both out of one of the games.

The most winnable game is tonight's and is likely to feature the most Nash and Hill minutes of the week unless it's a blowout in the 4th quarter. After that, the Suns fly to Denver for a mile-high game, followed by a home game against the Hawks. All in the span of about 50 hours. Considering the opponents, the Suns' history against those teams, and the venue of each game, if the Suns are going to "punt" any of these games to win the others, you'd have to "X" out the Denver game.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Tonight, the Suns face the Warriors - a team the Suns have found ways to beat in 11 of the last 12 regular-season meetings. The Warriors have failed to score 100 points in the last 4 meetings (averaging 92), while the Suns have averaged 106. The Suns won the first matchup this season, 102-91.

Cross your fingers that the Suns can continue this stretch of dominance.

Special gameday fun: use the comments section to create a caption for that awesome picture!

Take a look at the Warriors stats:


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
Monta Ellis 23 37.8 8.5 19.3 44.0 1.2 4.3 27.0 4.4 5.6 79.7 0.5 2.8 3.3 6.1 3.6 1.7 0.4 2.3 22.7
David Lee 23 37.0 7.6 14.9 51.2 0.0 0.1 0.0 3.0 4.1 72.6 3.0 7.0 10.0 2.6 2.8 1.0 0.5 3.5 18.2
Stephen Curry 15 32.7 6.7 13.4 49.8 2.4 5.5 43.4 1.7 2.3 74.3 0.7 3.4 4.1 6.7 3.0 2.0 0.3 2.9 17.5
Dorell Wright 23 29.3 4.0 9.1 43.3 1.9 5.0 37.1 1.5 1.9 77.3 0.9 3.5 4.4 1.8 0.8 0.9 0.3 1.7 11.3
Nate Robinson 17 22.3 3.4 8.4 40.8 0.9 3.1 30.2 2.2 2.5 86.0 0.4 1.8 2.2 4.5 1.4 1.0 0.1 2.2 9.9
Brandon Rush 24 24.4 3.1 6.2 50.3 1.7 3.0 56.3 1.3 1.6 76.9 0.5 2.7 3.3 1.2 1.1 0.6 0.8 1.4 9.2
Klay Thompson 24 16.7 3.0 6.3 47.0 1.5 3.0 49.3 0.2 0.2 100.0 0.2 1.3 1.5 1.3 1.1 0.5 0.3 2.4 7.5
Kwame Brown 9 20.7 2.3 4.4 52.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.7 3.8 44.1 1.8 4.6 6.3 0.4 1.6 0.9 0.0 2.3 6.3
Ekpe Udoh 24 19.0 1.6 4.1 38.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.9 1.4 64.7 1.2 2.3 3.5 0.7 0.9 0.6 1.5 2.8 4.1
Charles Jenkins 16 9.3 1.2 2.4 48.7 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1 100.0 0.1 0.4 0.6 1.4 0.3 0.4 0.1 1.4 2.4
Andris Biedrins 21 17.5 1.2 2.0 61.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 20.0 1.2 3.5 4.7 0.2 0.4 0.7 1.2 3.0 2.4
Dominic McGuire 22 11.2 0.9 2.2 40.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.7 75.0 0.8 1.7 2.5 0.7 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.9 2.4
Jeremy Tyler 13 4.2 0.6 1.2 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.5 50.0 0.4 0.5 0.8 0.2 0.3 0.0 0.2 1.0 1.5
Chris Wright 7 2.7 0.1 0.4 33.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.6 75.0 0.3 0.4 0.7 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.6 0.7


For more coverage of the game:

Suns vs Warriors coverage

Golden State Of Mind

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When Dudley makes shots, a butterfly gets its wings.

It's not exactly a surprise, but when Jared Dudley and Channing Frye both play well the Suns are a formidable team. Not a championship team. Not even really a dangerous playoff team, but certainly a formidable opponent for the likes the Bucks, Bobcats, Kings and the occasional Hawks.

Over at SB Nation Arizona a bunch of the fellas do a weekly power ranking of the Suns roster. Needless to say, you can expect to find Steve Nash on top of the ranking until such time as he asks out of Phoenix, retires, or takes one too many blows to the head and is forced to miss some games.

Since neither of those three are likely to happen, we'll just assume that Nash will be on top for the foreseeable future.

After Nash, however, things get a bit more interesting. For the bulk of the season the number two slot has been held down by Marcin Gortat and his strings of double-doubles. This week, however, there's a new number two in town.

Check it out....although the headline and opening paragraph of this story should give you a hint.

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Don't look now...Here comes three games in a row! (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

One of the more taxing byproducts of the shortened, compressed 2011/2012 NBA season are the back-to-back-to-back games that every NBA team must face on at least one occasion this year, along with some teams, like the Phoenix Suns, who are scheduled to to play two sets of them.

The Suns will play their first set of back-to-back-to-back games starting tonight with an away game against the Golden State Warriors before heading to play another road game against the Denver Nuggets tomorrow, and then finally heading back home to play the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. The Suns' next and last back-to-back-to-back series will come next month when they will face the Utah Jazz on March 14th at home, at the L.A. Clippers on March 15th, and back home against the Detroit Pistons on March 16th.

So what can we expect from the Suns' first back-to-back-to-back series of games? How have other teams who have already played three-straight games responded?

Continue reading after the jump for an analysis.

Up to this point, the back-to-back-to-back games thus far haven't been all that bad for the teams who have played them. In fact, of the 17 teams who have already completed a three-in-a-row series (Denver twice), 10 teams have come away with a winning record over the three-game stretch, with two teams (OKC Thunder, Chicago Bulls) going 3-0. Not only that, the overall record of all three-in-a-row games played by those 17 teams is 28-26...Not too shabby.

But what about that dreaded third game? Surely the records of those 17 teams haven't been favorable on the last game of the stretch, right? Wrong. Even when we look at the records of the teams playing the last game of the back-to-back-to-back, their combined record is 10-8.

Looking at these stats, one may be lead to believe that playing three games in a row might actually be advantageous for the team playing them...Well, not exactly. The thing is, the success of the teams playing the three-games-in-a-row has much more to do with the overall success of the team than it does the back-to-back-to-back games. That is, good teams can expect to do well in these games, but the bad teams...not so much.

In fact, none of the 10 teams who have come away with a winning record during the back-to-back-to-back games were sub-.500 teams.

So what can we take away from this? Well, I believe the most important thing these stats show us is that the back-to-back-to-back games tend to follow the same trend as most other games do. For the Suns who currently have a record of 12-15, the likelihood of coming out of these three games with a winning record probably isn't very high. But then again, that probably has more to do with the teams the Suns are playing and the fact that two of the games are on the road then it does the three-game stretch itself.

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Golden State Warriors 102, Phoenix Suns 96 The Phoenix Suns kick off a difficult stretch of three games in three nights when they take on the Golden State Warriors tonight in Oakland. The Suns are...

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Steve Nash celebrated his 38th birthday by continuing his outstanding recent play, leading the Suns to a successful 3-1 week and being named to the All-Star team along the way. The Suns won three road games and hung tough with a Rockets team that had blown them out the previous week. In fact, the two losses to the Rockets are the Suns only losses so far this month, after they finished January with a thud. Things are looking up!

Record for the week (February 5-11): 3-1

Average Score: Suns 98.3, Opponents: 93.8

Beating the Bucks and Kings is nothing to uncork champagne over, but the Hawks are an upper-echelon playoff seed in the East and the Suns handled them with ease in Atlanta. This might have been the best stretch of Suns ball we've seen this year. Channing Frye came to life, Michael Redd provided some needed scoring off the bench, Grant Hill looks healthy and Steve Nash is, incredibly, playing as well as ever. The ceiling on this Suns team is low, but it's encouraging to at least see them not underachieving as they were early in the season.

Western Conference Position: 12th

The Suns have been hanging out in this area of the conference standings for most of the season and the longer it goes on, the more it looks like they're stuck here. However, it wouldn't take too much of a hot streak to make up ground. They're only 2 1/2 games back from the #8 seed, and the Nuggets, Blazers and Jazz are sliding a bit. It will probably take 35 or 36 wins out of 66 games to make the playoffs, meaning the Suns need to go at least 23-16 the rest of the way to have a shot.

Offensive Rating: 102.3 (19th out of 30), PPG: 93.4 (19th out of 30)

It's so simple, isn't it? Put the ball in the basket. The open shots the Suns were missing early in the season are now starting to fall, and the Suns made 37% of their 3s and 49% of their total FGs this week, both above their season averages. Channing Frye, Jared Dudley and Michael Redd are hitting 3s at a fairly consistent rate and the 3-point shot is key to the Suns offensive success.

The bench continues to struggle to score and the Suns are still prone to occasional long cold spells, both in evidence against Houston. But the core of the Suns offense, Nash/Gortat pick and roll, and 3-point shooters knocking them down from the wings and corners, is starting to round into form. We can hope that Shannon Brown will not be the team's 4th leading scorer in PPG before long. It's disturbing.


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
Marcin Gortat 27 32.5 6.4 11.5 56.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.3 3.4 66.3 2.5 7.5 10.0 0.9 1.6 0.6 1.7 2.1 15.1
Steve Nash 25 31.4 5.9 10.4 56.3 1.2 2.7 44.8 1.6 1.9 87.2 0.3 2.3 2.6 10.3 3.6 0.6 0.1 0.6 14.6
Jared Dudley 26 30.2 4.2 8.9 46.6 1.3 3.1 40.7 2.0 2.4 82.5 1.2 3.0 4.1 1.9 1.0 1.1 0.2 1.5 11.6
Shannon Brown 22 21.0 3.5 8.8 39.4 0.8 2.4 32.7 1.3 1.7 78.4 0.4 1.6 2.0 0.9 1.1 0.9 0.2 1.4 9.0
Grant Hill 26 26.7 3.5 8.7 40.5 0.3 1.4 24.3 1.5 1.8 84.8 0.5 2.8 3.4 1.8 1.4 0.7 0.7 1.6 8.9
Channing Frye 27 23.2 3.2 8.4 38.3 1.3 4.0 32.7 0.9 0.9 92.0 0.9 4.5 5.4 0.9 0.9 0.6 0.9 2.5 8.6
Hakim Warrick 19 16.6 2.7 6.2 44.4 0.1 0.4 14.3 2.1 2.8 73.6 1.1 1.7 2.8 0.9 1.0 0.2 0.1 1.2 7.6
Markieff Morris 27 20.3 2.8 7.0 40.4 0.9 2.1 42.9 0.9 1.3 67.6 1.1 3.8 4.9 1.0 1.0 0.7 0.6 2.7 7.4
Michael Redd 14 13.4 2.4 6.4 36.7 0.9 3.0 28.6 1.1 1.6 69.6 0.1 0.9 1.0 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.0 0.4 6.7
Robin Lopez 25 12.9 1.6 3.8 43.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.2 1.6 77.5 1.2 2.1 3.2 0.3 0.7 0.1 0.6 2.0 4.5
Sebastian Telfair 21 12.9 1.5 5.0 30.2 0.5 1.6 33.3 0.8 1.0 81.0 0.2 0.8 1.0 1.7 1.0 0.8 0.0 1.8 4.4
Ronnie Price 25 15.6 1.5 3.7 40.2 0.4 1.3 33.3 0.5 0.6 85.7 0.6 1.0 1.6 2.2 1.3 0.9 0.1 1.9 3.9
Josh Childress 15 13.9 1.4 2.9 47.7 0.2 1.0 20.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.1 1.9 2.9 0.9 0.3 0.3 0.1 1.0 3.0

Defensive Rating: 105.2 (22rd out of 30), PPG Allowed: 96.1 (20th out of 30)

The lower third of the league in defense is nothing to be proud of, but it's an improvement from last season, when the Suns were dwelling in the league cellar defensively. So, there's that. And they've only given up 100 or more twice in 7 games this month, both times in wins. The Suns are never going to be the Bad Boy Pistons on defense, but defense isn't a glaring weakness with this team, and they've looked above average on occasion. Slow, measured progress with a long way to go, but progress nonetheless.

Pace: 91.3 (18th out of 30)

Run and gun was fun, wasn't it? Ah, those were the days. These Suns don't have the athletes to push it up and down the floor, and middle of the pack is what we can expect.

Game of the Week: Suns 99, Hawks 90

The Suns first win of the week was also their most impressive, as they went on the road to face a tough Atlanta team and led throughout, dominating long stretches of the game before a bit of a 4th quarter run by the Hawks made the game appear closer than it was. The Suns made 11 3-pointers, the bench produced well, and Nash scored 24 to go with 11 assists as the Suns got the rare blowout on the road against a playoff team.

Stud of the Week: Steve Nash

Who else? The Suns lone All-Star selection is shooting as accurately as he ever has in his brilliant career, and leads the league in assists. This past week, he averaged 15.0 points and 12.5 assists, shooting a gaudy 63.6% from 3 and 63.8% from the field overall. Seth, Wil, PHXgp and I all think he's a righteous dude. And, of course, he hit the game-winner on his birthday.

Dud of the Week: Entire Suns Bench

The only truly poor stretch of basketball the Suns played this past week was the second unit in the second quarter against the Rockets, and it was catastrophically poor. Yes, the Rockets bench is top-notch, but it was embarrassing the way they pillaged and plundered the Suns bench on Thursday night. A great performance from the starters, including a double-double from Frye and a perfect 7-7 shooting night from Nash, was wasted.

Outlook

Can this team win 23 of its last 39 games and make the playoffs? Never say never, but it's unlikely. At least they're starting to work their rotation out and Frye's slump is temporarily over. They're competing and winning, amidst all the chatter about tanking and potential Nash trades and "is Gentry's job safe?" They continue to compete and play hard, which gives them a chance, and gives us fans a reason to watch.That resolve will be tested this week as they play a back to back to back starting Monday night in Oakland against the Warriors.

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