What was once the hottest ticket in town has become more of a laugher over the past three years. Throughout the 2000's the Phoenix Suns (18-38) and the San Antonio Spurs (44-13) had some classic battles for playoff positioning and in the Western Conference Playoffs searching for a title.

The steady drop in the standings over the past three seasons has been one sided as the Suns have not made the Playoffs in three years while the Spurs have won 155 games and counting as serious contenders.

When did the rivalry end?

Other than this year the Suns had Steve Nash as the architect and assistants in Grant Hill, Channing Frye, and Amare Stoudemire to help. Since then they have all left on their own accord going to contending teams (insert Lakers joke here) deciding to not go down with the sinking ship.

The way these two franchises are run seem to be polar opposites. That is not a knock on the Suns front office, but rather a knock on the consistency that the team has not had over the past five years which has been the reason for the downfall.

In the past five seasons alone the Suns have had three different head coaches, three different acting general managers, and a roster turnover from title contenders to lottery odds watchers.

In that same span the Spurs have had one coach, one general manager, the same core roster, and remarkable consistency as a franchise. A model to study and learn from if there ever was one. The results over the past three seasons tell the story.

(Recent) History Lesson

This season the teams have met once and it was a close game until (TP) eviscerated the Suns (11 points 4 assists) in the fourth quarter. He finished with 31 points and 7 assists for the game, but the show he put on late was a display of one of many stark differences between the two teams this season.

Head-to-Head (past four seasons including Playoffs)

Suns: 105.3 PPG (7 wins)

Spurs: 106.1 PPG (9 wins)

That is a little deceiving as the Spurs have dominated the Suns over the past three seasons going 8-1 against them, but were 1-6 during the 2009-2010 season. That was the season where the Suns got redemption against their then rivals with a playoffs sweep and a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

Head-to-Head (career)

Duncan vs. Suns: 22.5 PPG 12.5 RPG 3.2 APG 2.5 BPG 55.3 FG% (84 games)

Gortat vs. Spurs: 13.0 PPG 9.8 RPG 1.3 BPG 50.5 FG% (10 games)

If you want to call Duncan old here are his numbers in the last four seasons (14 games) 20.6 PPG 11.0 RPG 2.5 APG 2.1 RPG and 61.5 FG%. He is not aging half bad. Over that span he was 33, 34, 35, and now 35 years old.

The younger, more athletic center has been schooled for the most part by the veteran as Gortat has played well in three games career against the Spurs and floundered in the other seven. He is 28 years old today.

Starting Line-Ups

PG - Goran Dragic v. Nando de Colo (or Patty Mills)

SG - Jared Dudley v. Danny Green

SF - P.J. Tucker v. Kawhi Leonard

PF - Luis Scola v. Tim Duncan

C - Marcin Gortat v. Tiago Splitter

Potential Suns Inactives: Hamed Haddadi & Diante Garrett

Potential Spurs Inactives: Tony Parker (Right Tricep) & Gary Neal (Left Calf)

Key Match-Up

Suns Bench vs. Spurs Bench

At one point in the season the Suns had the second best bench units in the NBA scoring nearly 40 points per game, only bested by the Los Angeles Clippers. Since then it has been a rapid decline with inconsistent minutes for each player resulting in erratic results nightly.

On the other hand the Spurs have been very consistent all season scoring 38.5 PPG as a unit taking the pressure off of the starters. Each unit balances one another out for the best team in the league.

The play of Manu Ginobili is the primary reason why they get that production off of the bench, but they have a plethora of depth with shooters, finishers, play-makers, and guys who know their role in the system. The Suns have depth as well, but nobody knows their role and when the bench comes in it becomes a free-for-all.

Interesting Stat: 13

The Spurs have scored 100+ against the Suns in 13 straight games. That is unlikely to change as they average 104.4 PPG and have netted 100+ in 38 out of 57 so far this season. Even without Parker for three games this season the Spurs still managed to get over 100 in each game averaging 105 PPG going 2-1 without their star.

Meaningless Stat: 23 Points

Those 23 fourth quarter points by Dragic against the Spurs are a distant memory, but they are also the career outlier his him against them. In the other 69 quarters for the Suns and the Houston Rockets he has scored a total of 110 points. That is 1.6 points per quarter.

Time: 6 p.m. MST TV: FSAZ PHOENIX – The rotational questions surrounding the Phoenix Suns and their forward-heavy roster was supposed to be cleared up once Marcus Morris got a few practices under his...

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Michael Beasley’s game against the Boston Celtics on Friday night raised a few concerns. He left after being pulled for third-string point guard Diante Garrett in the 113-88 loss, and he...

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1. Goran Dragic

Weekly Average: 18 points, 12 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals in 39 minutes of play

What an impressive week from the Dragon. Not only did he reach a career high in assists against Portland with 18 (Tied for the second highest of any point guard so far this season), he racked up 10 assists in each of his other games as well. Top that off with his 18 point scoring, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals per game averages, and you can easily say this was the best week of his career so far. More please!

2. Jermaine O'Neal:

Weekly Average: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block in 20 minutes of play

Jermaine O'Neal is playing at such a high level right now that it's almost a shame he doesn't get to do it for a team who could really use him. Don't get me wrong, apparently he wants to be here and the Suns love having him as well as the fans, but I can't understand why a contender didn't offer up a solid deal to acquire him. O'Neal outplayed his younger, starting counter part this week, and it wasn't the first time he's done so either. He's a force to be reckoned with down low and is playing great basketball all-around.

3. Luis Scola

Weekly Average: 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assist in 18 minutes of play

Scola's minutes have been inconsistent lately...Playing as many as 30 some nights and as little as 14 on others. Still, when he's on the court he's one of the most reliable options the Suns have, and he produces accordingly. Luis is the consummate professional of the team and you know what to expect from him night in and night out.

4. Jared Dudley

Weekly Average: 11 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists in 30 minutes of play

Dudley bounced back from a disappointing couple of weeks and started getting back to his old self recently. I believe the trade rumors affected him more than most people realize, and it likely hurt his production. Now that all of that is over, I expect Dudley to re-energize and get continue to get back to doing what he does best.

5. Marcin Gortat

Weekly Average: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block in 23 minutes of play

Gortat just didn't seem to really get in going this week. His averages were down across the board, and he never reached double-digit rebounding all week...even against the small front line of Boston. Not sure if it's rust from the All-Star break, or a post-trade rumor malaise, but the Suns need the Polish machine back and fast.

6. P.J. Tucker

Weekly Average: 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in 26 minutes of play

Tucker still isn't lighting up the score board or the stat line, but if you watch the games you know exactly how important he is to the team. P.J. is also starting to get more comfortable on the offensive end of the ball and is demonstrating a nice all-around game lately. Let's hope he continues to progress in this respect...the Suns could sure use it.

7. Wesley Johnson

Weekly Average: 8 points, 5 rebounds in 20 minutes of play

Smilin' Wes has a lot to smile about this week. He has finally been "freed", and for the most part earned his stay in the rotation. Johnson is what he is, a catch and shoot perimeter wing who can defend and rebound pretty well. In this respect he did fairly well this week, going 9/19 from the field overall.

8. Markieff Morris

Weekly Average: 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assists in 21 minutes of play

Morris has been struggling lately, but he seemed to do pretty well against the Celtics scoring 11 points on 5/8 shooting (without taking any three point shots). Maybe bringing in his brother Marcus will be just what the doctor ordered for both of these players. Maybe Markieff will let his brother focus on the perimeter scoring while he gets back to doing what he does best...scoring in the paint.

9. Michael Beasley

Weekly Average: 6 points, 3 rebounds in 13 minutes of play

After several consecutive weeks of Beasley showing improvement and becoming productive, Beasley took a pretty big step back again this week. He shot an ugly and inefficient 6/22 over the past three games while jacking up poor shot selections (which of course goes hand-in-hand). Beas has the skill to be one of the top 3 players on the team when he's playing with his head screwed on right...hopefully head coach Lindsey Hunter can get him re-focused.

10. Kendall Marshall

Weekly Average: 2 points, 3 assists in 13 minutes of play

Marshall wasn't much of a factor this week, and topped it off with a pretty bad game against the Celtics going 1/7 from the field and only registering 4 assists in 19 minutes of play. In Marshall's defense, his shots didn't look bad and they nearly all rimmed out; but if they don't drop they don't count. I like the fact he is taking more shots and trying to become more aggressive though, he will need to continue to do this as a big part of his development going forward.

*Honorable Mention - Marcus Morris

Weekly Average (1 game): 7 points, 2 rebounds in 6 minutes of play

Although this is only a top ten list, and Marcus certainly didn't play enough to crack the weekly rankings, I had to at least included a short blurb about how well he played in his very limited minutes with zero practice time against Boston. Marcus wasn't even expected to play against the Celtics after arriving the night before once officially traded to the Suns for a second round pick, but the newest Morris twin was given 6 minutes of garbage time once the game got out of hand and immediately stepped in and produced. Yes it was against the Celtic backups during exhibition time, but the offensive skills of Marcus were easily apparent. I expect to see him make the top 10 list next week...Who will he supplant?

So there you have it. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below!


There is a not so subtle theme brewing in 2013 and we are just a few short months into the calendar year. In February the Harbaugh Brothers met on the gridiron for the Super Bowl and now with the recent acquisition of Marcus Morris by the Phoenix Suns there is brotherly love on the hardwood.

Marcus and Markieff Morris were teammates for 109 games in college, all throughout high school, and on the playgrounds coming up in Philadelphia. For the first time ever, for the last two years -- 698 days, they are back on the basketball court playing basketball together like they were telepathically born to do.

The duo is now reunited in Phoenix taking their journey from Philadelphia, to Kansas, and now to Phoenix (after a brief stint in Houston for Marcus).

Houston was never a situation that was comfortable for Marcus playing the first year and a half there including a stint in the Developmental League. The Rockets are a very deep at the time with a lot of players in similar positions and Marcus ended being the odd man out of the rotation.

"No, to be honest I never felt comfortable or myself (in Houston)," Marcus told me after his debut. "I don't feel a lot of people know my game because I had to take a backseat or the hid me in the back. I think here I will be able to open up and play my game and show everybody what I can do."

Getting traded to Phoenix was "exciting" and he "couldn't stop smiling." His debut included a pull-up three in transition, another long jumper, and two free-throws. All of those came while on the court in an unexpected appearance in a big loss to the Boston Celtics.

Now he can get back to feeling comfortable on the basketball court.

"It was cool man, I felt real comfortable, and I felt like myself for the first time in a while. I felt a little rusty, but as time goes on I will get better."

When they were in Kansas the duo was as effective as they come. Marcus was the scorer, Markieff was the rebounder, and they went on to win 101 games (six tournament games) in three years. The offense was cohesive with Marcus on the perimeter and Markieff in the paint to a tune of the 8th best offense in the Nation in 2010-2011.

Stylistically what they did in college is translatable to the next level. Marcus stretches the floor with his ability to shoot and handle the ball while Markieff cleans it all up in the paint.

"We have been intrigued for quite some time about the potential synergy from having both of the Morris twins on our team. So we are excited to have the opportunity to welcome Marcus to the Suns," said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby.

Twin Magic as it has been coined has been a tale of two talents in the NBA as there is one more talented brother with the other being the his keeper. The Suns are all too familiar with that trend as they watched Robin Lopez and Taylor Griffin both play in the overcast shadow of their brothers Brook Lopez and Blake Griffin while here.

In college Markieff was Marcus' keeper, but that all changes as this is his team from a tenure standpoint, and to this point he has outplayed his brother on this level.

As Lon Babby pointed out, "the potential synergy" is intriguing, as is the potential that these two get back to their days playing Kansas as a potent 1-2 punch. The rational fear is that Markieff reverts back to where he was his entire life as a basketball player, back in the shadows of his older brother.

Can they replicate that off of the bench in the NBA? Time will tell on that, but the one thing that will happen is the two will be as happy and motivated as they ever have been as professionals.

"Definitely, for sure. You cannot just come in and think they are going to give you a spot," said Marcus about trying to avoid a similar situation with deep Suns roster. "

"So everyday -- day in and day out, I am going to do the same thing I did in Houston because I felt like I could have been with the starters over there or been playing significant minutes there. They played who they wanted to play over there. I think it will be a different situation here, people get a chance to go here."

The bench is poised with rookie Kendall Marshall leading the way and a litany of wings capable of playing alongside the twins in the front-court. This could lead to more time at the five for Markieff as he has the perfect mentor to help him transition from an offensive four to a dual threat five.

With Marcus and Markieff all set to sit next to each other on the bench in purple and orange the best should be brought out of both, but good luck to Interim Head Coach Lindsey Hunter in knowing who he is subbing in as he stares down the bench.

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