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Tonight the Boston Celtics pay a visit to the Valley of the Sun for a matchup against our beloved. At 35-10, the Celtics have some things on their minds that are much different than our Phoenix Suns, namely Championship Basketball. While the Suns were doing a much needed Kumbaya yesterday, the Celtics were most likely pondering which finger a potential NBA title ring goes on.

True, this is a game of two squads heading in different directions. True, these squads have one small similarity going into the game tonight: lineup and rotation uncertainty. For the Celtics, Shaquille O'Neal may play or may not play, depending on the condition of his hip. Paul Pierce left last night's game against Portland with a knee injury and is also questionable. For the Suns, Grant Hill is questionable as is the rest of the squad, with the exception of Steve Nash, who has double-doubled his way through January in all but a handful of games.

Here's a hint that the Suns could be changing things up yet again, even if Grant Hill can go tonight:

Alvin Gentry:

"I wanted to establish a constant starting five and then a rotation. At some stage, if it's not working out, obviously as the head coach it's my responsibility to maybe look elsewhere personnel wise and maybe make some changes in the lineup and our rotations. That's what you have to do when you're not getting done what you expect to get done..."

The starting five of Nash-Carter-Frye-Hill-Lopez and bench of Dudley-Dragic-Gortat-Warrick worked out for 5 games and then took a monstrous dump at the end of the East Coast trip and beyond. So who is left? Who will get a shot at rotation time and perhaps a crack at the starting lineup if Hill can't go tonight? Here are some amature ideas:

  • Josh Childress:   All man crushes aside, why not give Chill 5 games in the rotation with 20+ minutes? We know we will get effort, hustle, and the culmination of it all, the all important GRIT. Childress has calmly waited on the sidelines for his chance. Time to get him some consistent minutes and see what the Suns have.
  • Mikael Pietrus: AKA, the chukker, Pietrus can D it up and on occasion, catch fire from the outside. Again, time to see what the Suns have with this guy.
  • Jared Dudley: Personally I'd like to see Dudz starting next to Nash. Personally I don't care if Vince Carter plays another game for the Suns let alone in the NBA. Nothing personal, but what does Vince really have to play for? A legacy? He's not going to the Hall, and rumor has it he's retiring at season's end. Is there a small market for his "talents" to a contender down the stretch? Yes he can put up 20 on any given night, if he wants to. But sitting him or reducing his minutes doesn't exactly equate to losing out on getting rid of him for some kind of return. Further, the Suns are in experimentation territory (as they were from game 1 this season). Dudz has shown with larger minutes comes larger numbers. Give him 30+ and bring Vince in later, or um, like send him out to Mrs. Fields and see if there's time for a little basketball when he gets back. Who cares anymore?
  • Goran Dragic: Another option to start or play significant minutes alongside Nash in VC's absence. His aggressiveness has been encouraging the past couple times out. It's all confidence for Goran, and if he can find it and maintain it, then maybe you find a way to get this guy more consistent minutes whether running the point or off the ball. Like Dudz, more minutes usually equates to more production.
  • Garrett Siler:  No, no, no he doesn't deserve minutes. But maybe you send a message to Lopez: "Hey pal, 7 foot centers are supposed to rebound. Put the comic books down and start watching some old Wilt Chamberlin vids. Hell, watch some Brooke Lopez vids." And the ultimate insult would be to drop the Silo in to take some Lopez minutes. How the hell else does one motivate Lopez? Doubt anyone knows anymore.

Just some ideas, perhaps desperate, perhaps failures in the making. But if Sarver isn't just spinning the whole "we're a playoff team," which is a very good possibility in order to continue selling tickets  (and in my eyes a knock on Gentry), then there must be a combination that can produce some W's.

On To the Game

48 minutes of heart, grit, determination, freakin' pride. And most importantly offense and defense. Compete, man, compete. Maybe some of the Phoenix Suns players will consider that their fans have suffered through 10 home losses thus far this season, some more pathetic than others. Give them some enjoyment, return on their investment. Why not knock of an elite squad from the East? One night of enjoyment for your people. 

Other than that Suns can hope for absences of Pierce and O'Neal, and a  gassed Celtics squad that played last night. Oh and maybe the trust tree exercise from yesterday did something positive....

[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/28/11 2:40 PM MST ]

Marcin Gortat Respectfully Calls Kendrick Perkins A Little Dog - SB Nation Arizona
Grant Hill and Shaquille O'Neal Both Expected To Play

Grant Hill, who wasn't able to finish the Suns last game on Wednesday due to a knee sprain that was aggravated when a Bobcats player fell into it, will play according to Coach Gentry.

Shaq, who injured his hip when he slipped on the ice and has missed the Celtics last three games, is also expected to play as per a member of the Celtics media (Comcast) who travels with the team.

Onward, to the Game Day Links:


Phoenix Suns 'Circle' Meeting Led By Robert Sarver And His Creative Ideas On Team Building -  SB Nation Arizona 

The team gathered in a circled on the practice floor, sat down, and Sarver had each player turn to the player to his left and say something nice about him. This per one Suns player who participated. 

And while it might seem a bit unusual to pull a team building exercise out of a management book (or maybe from an episode of The Office), it really doesn't compare to Sarver's approach two years ago.


Phoenix Suns Face Boston Celtics In Game Of NBA Basketball - SB Nation Arizona

After talking in generalities about how physical the Celtics are, Gortat went to a pretty interesting place when it came to center Kendrick Perkins. He literally compared him to a little dog but managed to do it in a way that both made sense and wasn't offensive. At least I didn't think it was offensive.


Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer, Week 13: And Things Go Bad Again - SB Nation Arizona

When the team loses, it's generally because of their always-porous defense and because Steve Nash's offensive help disappears, as was the case for most of the last week. As a result, not a lot of the Suns players are what one would consider "hot." So again, this week's thermometer is more a scale of least bad to most bad.




Suns Owner Tries to Stay Upbeat: Az Central Paul Coro:

Some excellent gems in this one, including:

"At this point, Steve is still playing at a very high level and is a very important part of the franchise," Sarver said. "I don't see us making a trade (involving) him this year. I just don't see it.

Phoenix Suns Circle the Troops: AZ Central Paul Coro:

Been waiting to hear about the inevitable NBA team meeting?

Something must change. The Suns failed to take advantage of the soft part of their schedule and now face Boston, the East leader, Friday and New Orleans, the NBA's hottest team, on Sunday. Given how the Suns lost seven of their past 13 games against teams with losing records, facing elite opponents is cause to circle the troops.

Suns Face Boston Celtics in Game of NBA Basketball: SB Nation (Seth):

One thing hinted at by Coach Alvin Gentry is some tweaks to his lineup or rotation that would probably mean more time for Mickael Pietrus while trying to cut back on minutes for Grant Hill to help prevent running the poor guy into the ground in what has basically become a lost season. Hill left the game on Wednesday versus the Charlotte Bobcats with a knee injury. No word yet on his status for tonight.

Can a human fit through an NBA rim?

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1992-93 Phoenix Suns Retrospective (Part 1)

I mentioned I might do this so after a little motivation I finally did it. It's my look back at the most fun Suns team I can remember watching- Charles Barkley and his 1992-93 set. This is Part 1, Part 2 will be published soon.

Vince Carter had a birthday in this game, and overall you could say it was a pretty good game for Carter, although I'm actually going to post 150 reasons why it wasn't. He still showed his trademark disinterest in getting within 12 feet of the basket. Honestly, I think he might have some kind of rare allergy and we should stop being so mean to him. Constructing some kind of bubble for Vince might allow him to hit more threes, which is Carter's main reason for being out there anyway.

So here it is:

1st quarter

Energy before tipoff seems good. Not tired yet.

Carter mostly a spectator so far, getting paid to watch from the best seat in the house.

Misses open three, but gets offensive rebound (good).

Fouled, missed first free throw because of good defense.

Defends Stephen Jackson with a sad face. Looks disinterested.

Misses a long two but avoids injury.

Carter lost in No Man's Land thinking about The Wiggles.

Vince bricks another three, but gets his own miss again to show that he cares about possession.

Finally makes a three 10 minutes into the quarter. Good wrist movement, but my analysis shows he needs to smile less.

Carter forgets that he's an NBA player and lets Jackson get a clean alley-oop.

Heads to bench when Dragic comes in.

(Carter's body language on the court is usually that of a petulant child, which would remind some people of KG. He’s often stuck with no player within 7 feet of him, watching a play finish, flat-footed, without readying himself for a board or help or a closeout. Probably the fault of everyone on this team who has created a half-hearted culture on D, as well as all those mean fans who say bad things about Carter, who can't shoot well when he has tears in his eyes.)

2nd quarter

Sits on bench for first six minutes. Might've been in the Gorilla costume for part of it.

Carter looks like he wants something from the concession stands.

Still sitting. Why doesn't he hustle more on the bench?

No Man's Land on the bench. Carter probably daydreaming about Justin Bieber again.

Dudley is playing a killer game right now. He's using his athletic hands on defense and utilizing a devastating upfake to take 20 seconds to drive to the rim. Why can't Carter have more athletic hands? It’s a question of effort and commitment more than anything.

Carter checks back in after being told he's special and different from all the other boys.

Immediately fouls Gerald Wallace on a shot. Take that, fans who say he shies away from contact.

Hits a 3. Good rhythm.

Hits another 3. He's starting to make up his mind what he wants to do.

Missed a jumper, but the A/C was probably blowing.

Hits another 3. Good position there -- he kept his feet behind the line.

Super late, nonexistent rotation allows a layup. If only players could get open for a 3 on defense.

3rd quarter

Starts with an open jumper that he somehow makes.

Bad rotation on defense leaves Jackson wide open for three.

Carter having a glazed-eyes contest with Boris Diaw. Carter's winning, but Diaw might respond by eating his eyes.

Missed a jumper when he got too close to the dreaded Contact Zone.

Watches sadly as Jackson drives around him for an and-1.

Consecutive fouls because of poor defense send him to the bench. Vince starts to show a bit of emotion, but the program quickly takes control and that wayward tear stays inside his head.

Sits on bench for rest of third. The bench should feel honored.

4th quarter

Carter back on the floor.

Missed a jumper.

Missed a jumper.

Missed a three.

Beginning to wonder if we're in the Twilight Zone.

If we're in the Twilight Zone, we should get that narrator guy to do our PA work. He's awesome, unlike Carter.

Carter stands and watches from 20 feet away while Kwame Brown revitalizes his career.

Three minutes of no scoring for either team forces Nash to come back in. Good thing the offense was running through Vince.

Nash gets Carter another wide open look that he hits.

Carter hits a spinning, twisting, contested 20-foot fadeaway. Good shot selection.


Good hustle back to the bench.

Allows Jackson to blow by him for easy layup. Even Channing Frye is unimpressed.

Chased off the three-point line, Carter drives to the basket but gets too close to a defender player who might give him an owie, so he shoots the worst Tony Parker teardrop in NBA history. Misses.

Carter hits Gortat in the face with a pass. Why didn't Gortat's face catch that pass -- it's unfair to Vince.

Telling stat: Carter has no motorcycle vroom vrooms after a dunk because he can't reach the rim from the three-point line.

Game over. Busy writing this so I didn't see if Carter smiled and joked after the loss.

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