Tonight the Suns will face the Charlotte Bobcats on the road, in an attempt to break a four game slide that has been the result of mostly missed opportunities and an inability to close out games. Will the Suns be able to break their unfavorable streak against the Bobcats?
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
When: 5:00 p.m. (AZ)
Watch: FSAZ (Locally) , NBA League Pass
The 5-6 Phoenix Suns and the 6-6 Charlotte Bobcats have a lot in common going into tonight's game. In addition to holding a similar record, both teams have star players who are questionable to play as of now...Eric Bledsoe for the Suns, and Al Jefferson for the Bobcats. Additionally, both Goran Dragic and Kemba Walker scored 31 points, both season highs, for their teams in their last game. One key difference being that Kemba's effort helped lead the Bobcats to a win over the Nets, while Dragic's performance still wasn't enough to overcome a loss to the Kings.
Probable Starting Line-Ups:
G - Goran Dragic
G - Gerald Green (Eric Bledsoe)
F - P.J. Tucker
F - Channing Frye
C - Miles Plumlee
G - Kemba Walker
G - Gerald Henderson
F - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
F - Josh McRoberts (Al Jefferson)
C - Bismack Biyombo
Keys to the Game:
The biggest key to victory for the Suns in my opinion is Eric Bledsoe. In his absence, Bledsoe has proven to be an irreplaceable components of the "good" Suns team. While Dragic has performed admirably in his absence, the Suns are missing a true go-to guy, and the 4th quarter closer to help propel this team to victory.
If Bledsoe can't go, the Suns are going to have to try to turn things around without him, which means taking care of the ball, first and foremost. The Suns are one of the most turnover prone teams in the league, averaging 17.4 per game. The Suns still need to hustle and run the floor, but they need to make sure they aren't playing too sloppily while doing so.
The other major key is execution. When the Suns are moving without the ball, finding the open man, and playing aggressive while making fast rotations on defense, they are a force to be reckoned with. However, they cannot afford to fall asleep like they seemed to do during the 3rd quarter against the Kings in their last game.
On the plus side, the Suns owned the Bobcats last season, sweeping them 3-0 during their last three match-ups. However, the Suns can't depend on history to be their x-factor tonight. Despite their reputation over the last several years, the Bobcats are on the rise and capable of playing very well, as evidenced by their recent win against the Nets. So, the Suns must play with full effort and attention to detail, with or without Bledsoe, if they hope to win this game.
Per multiple reports (Paul Coro among them), Eric Bledsoe is doubtful for this game after not being able to make it through shoot-around, while Al Jefferson will play and start for Charlotte.