Aaaahhh the memories. You remember when we last saw the Nuggets (37-27) way back on January 11th? Remember how we came out of the gate just absolutely seeping awesomeness from every orifice? Yup, in the 1st quarter we dropped 32 points on one end and held the Nuggets to just 20 points on the other and jumped out to a quick 12 point lead. You remember?
Well, if you really remember and you're not just pretending to have a semi-photographic memory like Scott Howard then you will recall that we suffered our worst loss since 2006, falling 132-98 for a 34 point shellacking. After shooting something like 30% from the field in the first quarter, the Nuggets finished shooting better than 60% for the game while Phoenix went 7-22 (.318) from behind the arc and pathetically shot 36.8% from the field. Our season average is over 47%. It's time to start the revenge tour, 2011. They punked us, pushed us down, put their stinky foot on our face and proceeded to point and laugh while they ran the score up. It's time for payback.
This game was supposed to be broadcast nationally on TNT tonight, that's why it's a late starting game (8:30 p.m. AZ Time). But the powers that be got wind that Bright Side of the Sun was officially declaring the start of their 2nd annual 'March Revenge Tour' and decided that tonight's game was just going to be too physical, too bloody, too dirty and too scrappy to air on national airwaves. That's the real reason why you'll have to check this guide and find out what obscure back-alley-hidden channel our Suns can be peeped on.
Get with the program. Last year Scott Howard began the tradition - this year, it's up to the Suns to make it an annual reality. Good teams peak at the right time, that's why the Suns made the 3rd seed and went to the Western Conference Finals last season, we peaked at the right time. You make a run after the all-star break and carry your momentum into the Playoffs - like the Spurs and Lakers have a reputation of doing.
Random Thought: Sometimes I ask myself, "I know that Gentry coached under Pop (Greg Popovich) and under Mike (D'Antoni)... could it be that Gentry has more Pop in him than Mike D?" Meaning - can he get his team to peak charging into the playoffs as opposed to just having an amazing regular season and kind of fizzing out when the big games come? Well - he and his team will have to answer that themselves because they will need a miraculous finish to the season this year just to make the playoffs.
Back to the matter at hand. Maybe it's because I just watched the movie 'Faster' with Dwayne Johnson (Short Plot: Dude's brother is murdered by other dudes - dude goes to jail - dude gets out of jail and proceeds to gloriously hunt and murder all other dudes who originally murdered dude's brother) but I am definitely in the mood for revenge.
8 of the 12 teams we will face for the remainder of this month have dealt the Phoenix Suns a loss in our last match-up with them.
3/10/11 - Denver Nuggets (1-2 = Suns season record) - Loss on 1/11/11, 132-98
3/13/11 - Orlando Magic (0-1) - Loss on 11/18/10, 105-88
3/20/11 - LA Clippers (1-1) - Loss on 12/26/10, 108-103
3/22/11 - LA Lakers (1-2) - Loss on 1/5/11, 99-95
3/27/11 - Dallas Mavericks (1-2) - Loss on 2/17/11, 112-106
3/29/11 - Sacramento Kings (1-2) - Loss on 2/13/11, 113-108
3/30/11 - OKC Thunder (1-2) - Loss on 3/6/11, 122-118 OT
As you can see, it's also an opportunity for the Suns to even the score literally with these teams given that for the season we are down a game to each with the exception of the Clippers.
We are undefeated this season against the four teams we will face this month that aren't revenge games - Houston, New Orleans, Golden State and Toronto.
Let's get this party Started.
So we've called on the weeping willow and conjured an image of vengeance as we remember the bully beat-down we took from the Nuggets now nearly two months ago.
There is a slight difference and reason to be positive about tonight's rematch... tempered with some reality.
The Good news:
The Bad news:
Carmel Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Anthoney Carter were traded to the Knicks
Say What? Yeah, it doesn't make sense right? Or does it... Since the trade the Nuggets are 5-2, their defense is improved allowing now only 94.3 PPG as opposed to 105.2 pre-trade. Another crazy thing that's actually not crazy.. they are averaging higher assists per game (24 v. 21.2 pre-trade), more rebounds (46.1 v. 40.9 pre-trade), more steals (8.29 v. 6.86) and consequently more fast break points (16.4 v. 12.9) and more points off turnovers (17.1 v. 14.9).
Maybe these increases have something to do with the fact that the ball doesn't stick as much as it did when Carmelo was in town. Maybe it also has something to do with how quick and hard Ty Lawson plays, maybe it also has something to do with removing a rotting corpse in the locker room and planting a flower garden with snap dragons and lilacs. These Denver boys are playing hard-nosed basketball and giving 100%, 100% of the time. You couldn't say that when Melo was the face of the team.
More Good News:
Lot's of Denver dudes are hurt. Danilo Gallinari is out with a fractured toe, Al Harrington (listed probable) has a jacked up achilles, Wilson Chandler (also listed probable) has a sprained left ankle and key here is that Arron Afflalo is listed OUT with a left hamstring he strained in Denver's game against the Clips last Saturday.
This Afflalo news is good for Suns fans because he has been the go-to guy for Denver since Melo's departure, and he's the same guy that burned the Suns for 30+ in our 30+ beat-down. Even more encouraging - take a listen to what Denver Stiffs writer Jeffrey Morton had to say about the team after their loss to the Clippers on Saturday.
While the Nuggets defense has vastly improved, it can't overcome a horrific "team shooting" night. Without a dynamic scorer it's up to the entire team to step it up (Arron Afflalo left the game with a hamstring injury) to pull the team out. The scoring by committee has worked out so far, but when the team collectively goes in the toilet offensively it's going to be very hard to climb your way back in every game by just playing good defense. They almost did it tonight, but they won't be able to do it every night.
The Bad News:
Channing Frye is out and Nene is a beast.
Though we can hope that with Afflalo out the Nuggets will struggle offensively, there is no guarantee that somebody else who is hungry won't step up... Though J.R. Smith has been on a little shooting slump - he's usually a Suns Killer, so I'd watch out for him. There is also no guarantee that we'll see the kind of offensive production we saw from both Vince carter and Hakim Warrick on Tuesday again tonight.
Our best chance to win this game is going to be on the defensive end and by taking care of the ball on offense and not allowing the quick Denver team to get out in transition because of turnovers.
The Bench mob will have a great impact in tonight's game if they can come into the game and be productive - Denver is thinner than it has been in the past, and though there was talk of Raymond Felton being an All-Star this year, I have a hunch that Aaron Brooks will have a definite speed advantage against him and be able to penetrate the lane at will. Let's just hope his shooting is better than his home debut.
Steve Nash - Ty Lawson
Vince Carter - Gary Forbes
Grant Hill - Wilson Chandler (listed as probable)
Hakim Warrick - Kenyon Martin
Robin Lopez - Nene
Check out Seth's take over at SBNation AZ
He also just tweeted this positive news -
"I feel like if anything I'm improving and not getting worse. I'm not right, but I'm getting there." Nash said about groin injury
BOTTOM LINE - SUNS NEED THIS WIN.
Don't fail me now - start this revenge tour off right and make Andrew over at the Stiffs put a foot in his mouth.
I've never liked the Nuggets. They are on my 'least favorite NBA teams' list, so I'm always extra pumped for Denver games - I hope you are too. Let's do it.
33 - 29
|Denver||Thu 03/10||8:30 PM MST|
|Orlando||Sun 03/13||1:30 PM MDT|
|@ Houston||Mon 03/14||6:30 PM MDT|
|@ New Orleans||Wed 03/16||6:00 PM MDT|
|Golden State||Fri 03/18||8:00 PM MDT|
|Houston||Tue 03/08||W 113 - 110|
|@ Oklahoma City||Sun 03/06||L 118 - 122|
|@ Milwaukee||Fri 03/04||W 102 - 88|
|@ Boston||Wed 03/02||L 103 - 115|
|@ New Jersey||Mon 02/28||W 104 - 103|
Hakim Warrick dropped a career-high 32 points in his debut as Channing Frye's replacement. While we don't expect that to be the nightly norm, there were some positive signs with some of the adjustments the Suns made to their sets.
Without Frye's spacing, the Suns took advantage of Warrick's athletic abilities but also did some things based on the passing abilities of both Warrick and Marcin Gortat.
Here's some examples:
These first examples are typical Suns pick and rolls but with a Warrick twist. The Suns still ran pick and rolls on 46 of 108 offensive possessions but they did several things differently.
1) Here the Suns run a standard Nash/Gortat high pick and roll.
2) Warrick is posted in the corner and when his man leaves to cover Gortat's roll, Marcin finds the open Warrick. Standard stuff for the Suns.
3) The difference here is Warrick doesn't hang out in the corner for an open three. Instead, he slashes in and takes the pass from Gortat and dunks it.
1) Here's another similar example with a side pick and roll. Note Warrick posted at the high arc but since he's not a threat to shoot from there, his defender is sagged way off into the paint to cut off the roll from Gortat.
2) But this time, Gortat floats out of the paint and Nash hits a slashing Warrick who had no intention of staying behind the arc. Hak slammed the ball here too with a dunk that started well outside the restricted circle...Helicopter style.
1) Here's an example of bad spacing. Nash and Lopez run a side pick and roll but Warrick is just hanging out at the elbow which allows his defender to easily cut off Lopez and Carter's man is able to cover both Warrick and still be close enough to Vince to recover if needed.
1) This is an example of an old basketball staple - Horns High. Both bigs station themselves above the elbows as you see below. The guard can use either screen and in this case Nash (wisely) chooses to take the pick set by big Robin Lopez.
2) Warrick's defender is forced to collapse on Lopez to prevent his roll so Nash immediately finds Hakim which was part of the plan all along.
3) Warrick is open for the jump shot but as Grant Hill's man rotates over, Hakim instead passes to Hill who hits an open corner three.
1) High low passing between the big men is a great way to take advantage of Warrick's and Gortat's abilities. In this example below the ball starts at the far corner with Grant Hill's hands and then goes to Gortat in the high post as Warrick seals his man in the post. This all happens very early in the clock before the defense is fully set.
2) After Gortat delivers the ball to Warrick in the post, the catch is bobbled a bit which allows the Rockets to collapse in the paint but that leaves Vince Carter wide open in the corner. Warrick somehow evades three defenders to get the ball to Carter who drains the shot.
1) On this play Warrick initiates the offense from the high post. As he holds the ball on the elbow where he's a legit threat to score himself, Nash sets a cross screen on Hill's man. The Rockets switch the screen which lets Hill get to the low post with a point guard on his back.
2) Warrick delivers a strike to Hill in good post position and Grant goes to work abusing the smaller defender. Interestingly enough, they did credit Warrick with an assist on the play which was a bit...generous from the official stats guys.
There's one more example here where the Suns ran a beautiful baseline out of bounds play from Nash to Warrick for a lob dunk.
These are just a few examples of the Suns running basic basketball plays to take advantage of their personnel. Warrick and Gortat combined for six assists in the game. Well done.