Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash (13) drives past Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Ben Margot - AP

2 months ago: Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash (13) drives past Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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Both teams trying harder on defense lately? Check.

Both teams' vaunted offenses slowing down a bit? Check.

Both teams playing better lately? Check.

Talk about evenly matched. Flipping a coin is as good as anything.

GO SUNS!


Suns need a big game from their birthday boy. (AP Photo/Matt York)

More photos » Matt York - AP

Suns need a big game from their birthday boy. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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Phoenix Suns PG Steve Nash has not played on his birthday since 2004, when he scored 29 points and dished 11 assists against his former team the Dallas Mavericks. Any time Nash played the Mavs it was special, particularly in that season right after Cuban said he'd rather spend his money on Erick Dampier.

Tonight, Nash has a perfect excuse not to stray from his strict diet when his teammates wheel in a cake and put on their party hats. The Phoenix Suns play the Warriors in a few short hours, meaning Nash gets to chase Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis around the court all night. I know how I felt after eating Super Bowl food. A piece of cake would not help matters.

Happy Birthday, Steve!

Oh and get over that little groin pull, okay? We need the old speedy Nash tonight.

Nash's perfect health

Regarding a "groin pull", nothing's been reported on any Nash/health issue all season, as opposed to prior seasons when his health was a fairly constant worry. I reject the notion that Nash is not any nursing bumps and bruises this season. He slightly limps to the sideline during timeouts, often comes up short on jumpers late in the game, rarely drives all the way to the cup and almost never initiates a fast break that doesn't involve a 60-foot two-handed chest pass. 

It might not be a groin pull. Could be a calf, back, side, front, top or bottom issue instead. But does it really matter, in the scheme of things? He's still good enough to put up 17 and 11, so who are we to argue? I just hope he feels really good tonight, that's all.

 

LOUUUUUUUUuuuuuu!

Its bad enough that old men Nash and Vince Carter have to defend roadrunners Curry and Ellis, but Marcin Gortat just might have to grapple with the smaller Louis Amundson for a significant portion of the night.

Yes, folks, there's a Louis Amundson sighting! His shooting/scoring has been worse than ever this season (maybe due to the thumb injury he sustained in training camp), but otherwise he's the same old Lou we all knew and loved. 

His minutes per game (14.6) are nearly identical to his Suns days, as well as points, rebounds, blocks, steals and everything else. Unfortunately, he just can't score - 40% from the field on mostly layups and tips, 26% from the free throw line.

His best game of the year might have been his last - 4 points (on 2-5 shooting), 11 rebounds and 4 blocks against Utah in 18 minutes. Earlier in January, he netted 7 points and 12 rebounds against New Orleans in 21 minutes.

But before your eyes get too misty, read on: Between those two January gems, he tallied a grand total of 14 rebounds and 3 field goals in 7 games on more than 85 minutes of court time. Lou has always been hit-and-miss, depending on matchups. This season, he's also been bothered by back spasms, only playing in 5 of the Warriors last 10 games, including sitting out the last 2.

 

The rest of the Warriors


FG3PTFTReboundsMisc
GMMAPctMAPctMAPctOffDefTotAstTOStlBlkPFPPG
Monta Ellis 49 41.2 9.4 20.6 45.9 1.6 4.4 35.9 4.8 6.2 77.3 0.6 2.8 3.4 5.6 3.3 2.3 0.3 2.8 25.3
Stephen Curry 41 34.0 7.0 14.5 48.0 1.9 4.5 42.4 3.3 3.6 93.8 0.5 3.1 3.7 6.0 3.0 1.8 0.3 3.3 19.1
Dorell Wright 49 39.6 6.1 13.8 43.8 2.5 6.1 41.5 2.1 2.7 77.6 1.1 4.6 5.7 3.1 1.9 1.4 0.8 2.3 16.8
David Lee 40 36.5 6.4 12.9 49.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.1 4.1 76.5 2.9 6.6 9.5 3.4 2.6 0.9 0.4 2.7 15.9
Reggie Williams 48 21.4 3.4 7.3 46.6 1.4 3.2 41.9 1.5 2.0 74.0 0.6 2.0 2.6 1.5 1.0 0.3 0.1 1.8 9.6
Andris Biedrins 40 26.4 3.0 5.3 55.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.6 36.0 2.7 5.8 8.5 1.3 1.1 0.8 1.0 3.7 6.1
Vladimir Radmanovic 44 17.3 2.0 4.6 43.6 1.1 2.5 42.3 0.4 0.5 86.4 0.9 2.2 3.0 1.3 0.9 0.7 0.6 2.3 5.5
Brandan Wright 16 9.4 1.8 3.1 56.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.6 70.0 0.8 1.4 2.1 0.2 0.5 0.1 0.5 1.2 3.9
Lou Amundson 23 14.5 1.7 3.9 42.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 1.3 26.7 1.8 2.2 4.0 0.4 0.7 0.4 0.7 2.0 3.7
Acie Law 34 12.9 1.3 3.2 41.7 0.2 0.8 21.4 0.8 1.1 73.0 0.2 0.8 1.0 1.3 0.8 0.5 0.0 1.0 3.6
Dan Gadzuric 28 10.6 1.3 3.1 42.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.5 35.7 1.9 1.2 3.1 0.4 0.8 0.4 0.6 2.3 2.8
Ekpe Udoh 25 12.1 1.0 2.2 46.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 0.8 75.0 0.7 1.4 2.1 0.8 0.6 0.1 0.9 1.8 2.7
Jeremy Lin 17 8.5 0.7 2.2 31.6 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.5 0.8 69.2 0.3 0.5 0.8 0.9 0.6 1.1 0.4 0.9 1.9
Charlie Bell 15 7.7 0.5 2.1 25.8 0.1 0.9 14.3 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.4 0.7 0.7 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.4 1.2


 

We're going to see a whole lot of Monta Ellis, Dorrell Wright, David Lee and Stephen Curry (37+ minutes per game over the last 10). After that, Biedrins gets the most burn, followed closely by Reggie Williams, Vlad Rad, and even Ekpe Udoh on the front line*. Golden State has been playing bigger and even a little slower than in years past. After years of being 1st or 2nd in pace, the Warriors have dropped precipitously to 4th this season on 6 fewer shots per game.

(*Remember when 6'10" Brandon Wright was the 10th pick in the draft and seen as a can't miss prospect? He was once considered a key piece to an Amare trade, as a potential PF replacement. The guy can't stay healthy, and even when he is healthy he's the 7th or 8th big man in their rotation.)

 

Recent Success, for Both Teams

On the season as a whole, Golden State's defense is slightly more effective than the Suns (27th vs. 28th), while their offense is a lot worse (12th vs. 7th) in terms of efficiency (points per 100 possessions).

Both teams are playing better of late.

NOTE: league average on efficiency (points-per-100-possessions) is 104. This applies, of course, to both offense and defense.

Golden State are winners in 7 of their last 11 games, including wins over +.500 Chicago and Utah. They are doing it with offense (110 offensive efficiency vs. 107 defensive efficiency per game), mostly from the 4 aforementioned players (Curry, Ellis, Lee and Wright).

The Suns are winners in 8 of their last 12 games, including wins over +.500 New Orleans, Boston, NY Knicks and Portland. The Suns are doing it with improved defense to go along with their good offense (107.3 offensive efficiency vs. 102.2 defensive efficiency). The Suns defense since that first debacle against Philly, where Gortat famously called the Suns defense the worst defense and the numbers proved it, is right at league average over the past 18 games.

 

Summary and Forecast

The Suns play a home-and-home versus the Warriors this week, needing to sweep in order to reach .500 for the first time since November. Sweeping home-and-homes are a nearly impossible task in any situation though, and the fact the that the Warriors are nearly as good as the Suns doesn't help matters.

The Warriors have been playing well and are always a threat to shoot you right out of the building. 

The Suns are playing well, but can't score in crunch time.

Expect the Suns and Warriors to split the next 2. It's just nearly impossible in the NBA for a team to sweep a home-and-home over an equal. Luckily, the Warriors defense is so bad the Suns will likely be able score in crunch time. Stopping the Warriors from scoring in that same crunch time will be the toughest task of the week.

 

Other links for your gameday pleasure

Phoenix Suns Get Back to Work - SBNation AZ

Speaking of boys, Happy Birthday to birthday boys, Steve Nash (37) and Mickael Pietrus (29). How lucky is Steve to share the same birthday as Mickael!

"We're not going to score 90 (points) and win, not against that crew over there. But we never do. I think they're really fun games for the fans, I'm not real excited about them...They are very good offensively. We have to find a way to slow them down a little bit but keep the pace offensively ourselves," Gentry said.

 

Suns vs Warriors coverage

Suns vs Warriors preview

Golden State Of Mind

 

A brief peek at JRich and Hedo...hmmm

Orlando Magic a Team in Disarray Following Loss to Boston Celtics - Orlando Pinstriped Post
But since a nine-game winning streak in the team's first 11 games after the trades, the bloom has fallen off the rose. Richardson is shooting 45-of-114 (39.5 percent) from the field in his last 10 appearances, and Turkoglu's been so awful during the same stretch (11 points, 4.2 assists, 36.3 percent shooting)

Van Gundy said, following the loss to Boston, "I've never been through a stretch with him where it seems like the majority of the plays he's making I'm sort of saying, 'What the hell is he doing?'"


Phoenix Suns 104, Golden State Warriors 92 For the past few weeks the Phoenix Suns have been aiming to get over the .500 hump. Unfortunately for them, the mission hasn’t gone well so far. On...

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

"I'm one of two basketball hoops, at the Staples Center. So enter, I'll show what it's like to have the worst rim job ever.

Why can't I work in Phoenix at the Purple Palace, wishin' for Nash's swishin'..."

This is just hilarious and check out her other song on the girls web site www.songsaboutsports.com.

h/t TBJ @ The Score.


 You were once a frosh with studly yearbook hair,

 Nash_freshman_medium

You ate at the Hungry Hound, while your chest was still bare,

 Thehungryhound_medium

You wore a clean white T to conceal the gun show,

 Nash_scu2_medium

You rooted for your squad and set a record for free throws.

 Nash_scu4_medium

 Then you cut off your sleeves as your confidence grew,

Nash_scu8_medium

You were drafted to the Suns, stupidly traded to the Mavericks, then returned as a free agent and your hair was longer, the blonde was gone (thank God), won two MVP's, led the Suns to 5 playoff appearances, bled for us multiple times, and still give us reason to believe, (even this season-sorry I'm no poet) and..........

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

 Nash_draft_dreams_1__medium

special thanks to JM, AKA That Broad.


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