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Here is your formal weekly recap for the Phoenix Suns with a look at all the games, the news and notes, key stats, NBA Draft updates, Quote of the Week, and more. Let's get it...
The Phoenix Suns (2-0) kicked off their pre--season with an international twist knocking off South American power Flamengo and then welcomed to town likely competition for the "non-playoff team from last year most likely to make that leap this year" in the Denver Nuggets. They knocked them both off, looking sloppy overall, but getting the wins nonetheless.
vs. Rio De Janeiro Flamengo - W (100-88) Full Recap
Right now the Suns look more like the team should have looked last year with 10 new faces to the rotation. However the situation this year is that they have two rookies to work in and free-agent addition Isaiah Thomas, but the roster as a whole was brought back from last years 48 win team.
The team is building chemistry. That takes time as Eric Bledsoe is adjusting to missing the
final 43 games of the season bulk of the final 39 games and Markieff Morris is adjusting to a likely new role that does not feature veteran Channing Frye in front of him as insurance. Early on against Flamengo it was rough to watch with lots of turnovers and sloppy play as they trailed all the way into the mid-third quarter.
Defensively there have been some positives as they are holding opponents to 88.5 points per game while limiting their shooting to 39.7% from the field (26.0% from three) using their speed and athleticism to force bad shots.
On that note they are forcing 22.5 turnovers per game getting out in transition (19.0 fast-break points per game) and getting teams to play into their style, which is easier said than done. The Suns are build for the frenetic and the chaotic with their athletic waves of guards and wings that get in passing lanes, cause deflections, and then chase down the ball for easy scoring opportunities. That is their identity.
Sure, in the half-court the Suns are a competent scoring team with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic working the pick-and-roll game, breaking down the defense, and creating easy scoring opportunities. Bledsoe especially looks like he is ready to be the half-court offensive catalyst through two games.
The team needs better overall cohesiveness on the offensive end and the rebounding needs a lot of TLC, but the offense is as dynamic as we thought it would be and it is in its infancy right now in terms of fluidity and comfort.
Let's dive deeper into this week:
25.0 PPG 6.0 RPG 5.5 APG
Granted, last year as individuals in vastly different roles Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green averaged 36 points per game while starting for more than half the season. They were asked to be different people in Sacramento and a Phoenix without Eric Bledsoe last year respectively, but this year, in a more confined role, they are more important to the success of a team with a higher ceiling. As a bench duo that would be more than three NBA teams last year and one of the best pairs in the league overall. Throw in a productive Anthony Tolliver and Alex Len and this could be a massive weapon for the Suns this season.
"That first group in there with Anthony (Tolliver) - they were moving the ball a little bit quicker. Anthony keeps it spread out, so we'll continue to play with it and see what works best." -- Coach Jeff Hornacek
Neither rookie played significant minutes in either pre-season game and Ennis came in initially with butter fingers and nerves of glass. After the first few minutes though the rookies looked like they belonged on an NBA court. Ennis did not have a major punch in the boxscore while running the team and facilitating the offense, but Warren shot the ball about as good as anyone could have hoped knocking down threes and scoring nearly a point per minute. It is just two games and one was against a South American team. Overall these two are going to look very good in their D-League uniforms while the Suns try and figure out their rotations. When they get called up they will contribute.
This week in Suns History: October 11th, 2008: The Suns lost to the Nuggets, 77-72, in a pre-season game at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. It was the first outdoor game in nearly three decades...
This week in Suns History: October 13th, 1998: The NBA announced it is canceling the first two weeks of the NBA season due to stalled negotiations with the NBA and the NBA Players Association...
Monday, October 13th @ Houston Rockets (2-0)
Thursday, October 16th vs. San Antonio Spurs (1-1)
This week there is a Texas-Two-Step for the Suns as they hit the road for the first time against Dragic's former team in Houston then return home to take on the NBA Champions. These will both be quality tests as the Rockets are trying to figure things out with their rotation and are playing with purpose to as high a degree one can in pre-season, much like the Suns are. They have questions with their forward rotation and back-up guards. The Rockets are one of about 3-5 teams that have enough questions about their team make-up and identity where they might be fighting for a playoff berth rather than just getting one given to them like years more talented team.
The Spurs are the Spurs. Like every year they have a locked in primary rotation and will tweak the bench accordingly as they always do. The Suns could pull out another 2-0 week with continued practices, chemistry building, and a rhythm on the court.
Hey, Ish Smith, hi from everyone here at Bright Side. Good luck in Houston and we all are rooting for you no matter where you land.
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The Suns will be heading into Houston against a thin rotation missing its only two centers on the roster. Dwight Howard is still recovering from a bruised left knee and is not expected to resume play until Tuesday and rookie Clint Capela is going to miss at least another month with a groin injury.
The Rockets went 14 deep in both of their preseason wins with Jeff Adrien getting the start for Howard in the second game. Houston will have a ton of variety off the bench stretching from international forwards like Donatas Motiejunas and Kostas Papanikolaou to former college standouts like forward Tarik Black (10 points and 15 rebounds on Thursday), guard Isaiah Canaan and guard Nick Johnson. The Rockets also have former Suns guard Ish Smith to backup Patrick Beverley and we will likely see new addition Jason Terry back from injury to make his Rockets debut.
For the Suns I'd expect some more starting lineup changes and head coach Jeff Hornacek trying out as many different lineups throughout the game as possible. With no Howard or Capela this could mean less Earl Barron and more T.J. Warren and Marcus Morris. This is an ideal scenario for Hornacek to try out Markieff Morris at the 5 with both centers for Houston out and his brother Marcus or even P.J. Tucker at the 4.
Check back for our gamethread later today for the official lineups.