The Other Guys...A Closer Look


As Seth pointed out in his post earlier today here, the story of the Suns/Trailblazers series thus far has been told by the contributions from the non-marquee players; or simply the "other guys".


So how effective have the other guys been on both teams?  Here is a quick summary of what we've seen thus far...

The Suns:

Jason Richardson - J-Rich was nearly non-existent in Game 1 of the series, and it showed.  He shot a paltry 4-12 from the field, including an unremarkable 2-6 from behind the arc in his 32 minutes of play; totaling only 14pts in all.  But the worst stat of all was one that doesn't show up in the stat columns, which was allowing Andre Miller to torch us for 31pts.  However, when Gentry made a key adjustment in games two and three by assigning Hill the duties of covering Miller, it not only worked defensively (holding Miller to only 22pts in both games combined), but it freed up J-Rich to unleash his inner superstar; to carry the team on his back; leading the scoring column in game two with 29 points, and a career high 42 points in game 3!

Grant Hill - Call him Mr. Consistent...or The Veteran.  Both of these monikers accurately describe the savvy play and experience he brings to our team.  Grant Hill seldom lights up the scoring column, but he does a little bit of everything; including the assignment of defending the number one scoring threat in this series, Andre Miller.  Hill has contributed by averaging around 10-11pts a game over the series, and 7-8rbs on offense.  However, his defense on Miller in games 2 & 3 have made the biggest difference for our team.

Goran Dragic -The Slovenian Slasher has been simply stupendous with the second string!  Goran has quietly provided a spark to our second unit; averaging 8pts a game in only 13min a game.  His assists have been relatively low...but then again, players like Frye and Dudley have been struggling with their shot.  So that doesn't accurately reflect his contributions overall.


The Trailblazers:

LaMarcus Aldridge - With their star player Brandon Roy already out, LaMarcus Aldridge would be a reasonable pick to carry the load on offense along with Andre Miller.  He is a long, strong player who can finish around the rim, and has a nice stroke from mid-range.  However, with so much energy spent on containing Amare, LaMarcus has been relatively quiet throughout the first three games of the series; averaging only 16-17 points each.  Not bad for a supporting role, but if Andre Miller is held to a minimum, it's hardly enough to win games against the #1 offense in the league.

Jerryd Bayless - After Andre Miller's dominating performance in Game 1 of the series, the Suns have made the same commitment to limiting his effectiveness that Portland has made with Amare.  Bayless has been used off the bench to replace Andre Miller at the point, and also as a complimentary piece to the starting unit; to provide another scoring option.  Bayless did a good job of slashing to the basket in Game 1 for a total of 18 points, but after the Suns adjusted in Games 2 & 3, he has been held to only 9 and 11 points respectively.

Nicolas Batum - Batum began the series with a bang...catching the Suns completely off guard with his aggressiveness and scoring ability and totaling 18 points in the process.  It's hard to say whether the Suns made great adjustments in game 2 & 3, or whether he was relatively ineffective due to injuring his shoulder toward the end of game two.  Whatever the reason, Batum hasn't been nearly as effective in games two and three; totaling only 15 points combined.

Marcus Camby - Not that he has put up great numbers in the scoring column, but his defense on Amare has been a key factor for Portland.  Without Camby in the Post, Portland would have no chance of weathering the offensive storm from Mr. Bully Ball himself.  Camby is also averaging a respectable 12rbs a game.



In games 2 and 3, Jason Richardson has been the ultimate x-factor and "OG" for the Suns; allowing for our offense to stay on pace even while Portland has done everything in their power to take away our main focus, Amare Stoudemire.  While the strategy of doubling Amare and trapping Nash on the pick-and-roll seemed to work for Portland in game 1, because of J-Rich, Nate McMillan has to be reconsidering whether that is still the best option for his team going forward.

Noticeably absent from the Suns list of Other Guys, are Jared Dudley and Channing Frye.  If either, or both, of these players can find their stroke...they will make it extremely tough on Portland to stop our offense.  Both of these players have the potential to open up a large lead when they're hot from beyond the arc, and I would bet they are both about due to start knocking them down.

Portland has been struggling to find a rhythm when Andre Miller has been limited with our defensive strategies.  Along with the aforementioned OG's from Portland, players like Rudy Fernandez (who although did well in the fourth quarter of game 3), have not been able to provide consistent scoring for their team to make the Suns pay for doubling down on Miller.  Unless this changes, I suspect the Suns will continue to use their current strategy; which seems to be working to their advantage

Bottom line, if the Suns can continue to limit Andre Miller's effectiveness, and hold Portland's OG's to a minimum, they should be able to close out this series in another two games.  This will also be contingent upon one or more of our OG's continuing to step up when Nash and Amare are being accounted for.

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