Game Thread: Suns vs Lakers, Game 3 (Earn it)

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It's show time. For all the marbles because we all know that the Suns aren't coming back from 0-3. If they can get a good win tonight and some momentum going into Tuesday....well, that's the hopeful view anyway.

Regardless of the outcome, the Suns need to do a much better job defensively in these coming games to avoid ruining a lot of great progress that was made this season on that end of the floor. No one wants a great season to end with the bitter taste of giving up 120 points per game in the final series. I don't care how good the Lakers are, that just won't do.

Play with pride and heart and get out there and mix it up. As Nash has said all season long. Earn it.

Offense:

- More of the same on the Nash pick and roll. They, like most teams, can't defend it with two players and Steve is still finding the open man that guy (mostly Hill and JRich) are getting it done

- Attack Bynum. His defense has been miserable in this series. He can't move his feet laterally and that's why JRich is getting wide open looks at the rim coming off a simple curl

- More Robin. Instead of going small, I would like to see the Suns get 25 to 30 minutes from Lopez and feature him more on the offensive end. Run more pick and rolls for him and run side pick and rolls with Nash and Amare that pull a big out of the paint so Robin can go after offensive rebounds. Setting him up for a put-back is a legit play and expecting about 15 points from him is reasonable

- Aggressive Amare. Pau is doing a great job defensively but the Suns are also making it easy only him. Amare needs to attack off the dribble when Bynum is off the floor. With Lamar watching Channing and the rest of the floor spaced, Amare can isolated and attack from his favorite left elbow position. He at least needs to test Pau and not get frustrated if he doesn't draw a foul or misses a couple of time. Keep coming back to this

- Notice I have not mentioned Frye's shooting. The bottom line is that Channing needs to play better defense even if his shot isn't falling. That's what got him benched last game (plus foul trouble). Between LB, Goran, Dudley and Frye the Suns only need a total of about 25 points

Defense

- Don't double Kobe early and don't front the post. Time to man up and stay home on the Lakers other guys (OGs) and then if the game is tight in the fourth you can consider sending a double but the Suns can't afford to have all those other guys getting wide open looks early so they are confident in their shot

- Play Robin on Pau early and let him bang a bit. Pau will always find ways to score against any single coverage but Robin can at least make him work and make him feel a defensive presence. Lopez isn't going to play 40 minutes, he has six fouls. Use them well (aka hard)

- Watch out for the Lakers transition and early offense. They have been defeating the Suns various stunts and fronts by attacking very early in the clock and even in transition when there's cross matches. Suns need to get back on D and be prepared to defend early in the clock

- Consider pressing Kobe in the back court to try and make someone else bring the ball up and initiate the offense. If nothing else, this might slow him down a bit and allow the defense to get set. The Suns were very effective doing this against Andre Miller

- Keep a body on Lamar. For reasons that I don't fully understand, Odom was often left wide open on the floor. He was doing damage by flashing in for passes and rebounds and he was allowed to catch the ball with enough space to easily drive the middle of the lane. Stick with Odom early and make him feel a defender. Don't let that guy roam the floor without some contact

- Aside from playing Robin more, I would even consider playing Lou at the three with Robin and Channing/Amare. Lou can handle Artest on the wing and will provide a few minutes of hustle and flying in for rebounds. If the Lakers want to go to Artest to try and take Lou off the dribble, at least Kobe and Pau aren't getting those shots. That's not a very good offensive unit with Lou at the three but if Frye is hitting shots and Amare is the other forward, you can get away with it for a couple of minutes. Small ball isn't going to work in this series for more then a quick burst

 

Coaches Pre-game Notes:

  • The LA media had plenty of questions for Phil...about Jennie Buss, his contract, you know - gossip
  • Bynum's knee swelling may or may not be better
  • Phil said the Suns are very good at home and do a great job playing their game and hitting three's
  • Gentry said once again that no one has beaten the Lakers in LA this postseason and all they've done is...well, you know
  • He did make it clear that this is a must win. "If we don't win we are in deep, deep trouble"
  • Robin will play more minutes per Gentry
  • Goal is to hold the Lakers to shooting in the 40's even the high 40's
  • Expect to see some zone unless Gentry is playing the misinformation game
  • On the whiteboard in the locker room it said - "Our Court. Our Time. Kick Ass"
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