Tonight, the Phoenix Suns give their 75% rebuilt selves a shot at winning a game versus arguably the worst team in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers. How bad are both of these teams? Why not compare?
Cavs: 8-28 15th in the EC...3-16 on the road....Lost 9 in a row, 9 of their last 10
Suns: 14-20 12th in the WC ...8-9 at home...Lost 3 in a row, 8 of their last 10
Cavs: 39.2 per game (26th, NBA)...-3.64 differential (27th, NBA)
Suns: 38.3 per game (30th, NBA)....-6.18 differential (30th, NBA)
Cavs: 94.0 ppg...ppg differential:. -9.48 (30th, NBA)
Suns: 105.7 ppg...ppg differential: -2.74 (20th NBA)
Cavs: 43% FG... (30th NBA)...FG% differential: -.046
Suns: 47.5% FG...(2nd NBA)...FG% differential: -.010
Woah. Quite a battle shaping up here. Two teams who can't defend or rebound. Two teams mired in the Winter doldrums of defeat and emotional deflation. Two teams seemingly going in the same direction-down the dark hole that is the toilet of franchise reconstruction. The Cavs lost LeBron. The Suns lost someone of substance too.
Not getting y'all excited for this one? Well how about a quote from one of the Suns new acquisitions, Vince "Vinsanity" Carter to lift our spirits:
"There's so much talent in here and ability," Suns guard Vince Carter said. "It doesn't matter about size. If we stick to what we do and be who we are, we should be OK but we've got to believe it.
"I think we can do it. I really do."
quote via AZ Republic (Paul Coro)
How's that? Feeling better, Suns fans?
Keys to the Game:
Win dammit. Play some D. The Suns have been letting scrubs and youngsters have career nights against them (76ers anyone?). Body up Jamison, keep Varejao from controlling the boards, and get a hand in the grill of Gibson and Williams. On the offensive end, stop settling for long fall away 3's (Vince). Start by working the ball inside to Lopez/Gortat. Attack the rim. Who do the Cavs have to stop buckets in the paint? Make them defend.
It would be ridiculous to make a remark such as "the Suns need a win to get back on track." But as Supreme Czar of the obvious, I'll go ahead and make that statement. The Suns have a lot of problems to deal with right now, but winning a game here and there could help the psychological segment of the problem. Of course getting a win-against anyone would take a remedy of the other problems. And what is really accomplished with a W versus the worst team in the league? I suppose more than a loss.
Mr. Alex Laugan created an excellent exercise in what I think they term "rosterbation," and with that in mind, I wonder what the lineup will be tonight. My preference is to put Frye at the 4 and leave him there indefinitely. He's the only semblance of a 4 on the squad, and shuffling him in and out of the starting lineup hasn't helped him out. In 33 games as a starter, Frye has shot 45% and averaged 12 and 6. In 13 games as a substitute, he's shot 35%, averaging 9 and 4. Less minutes and opportunities? Probably? Playing without Nash hurting his game? Yes.
Frye is only one piece of the equation. Robin Lopez presents another conendrum of sorts. His suckitude of late is a contributing reason why the Suns are struggling. First off, is Robin healthy? I assume so. So if he is, there are no excuses. I did notice a little something int he game logs. Lopez hit the skids after a nice 18/14 performance versus the Lakers in which he played 32 minutes. From there on out, the most he played was 18 minutes versus Sacramento. After Lopez's stretch on the DL, he returned and registered 4 double digit scoring efforts out of 5 games. In all of those games he played at least 21 minutes and never registered more than 4 PF's, averaging nearly 6 boards a game.
What's my point? Lopez is a headcase. He's young, prone to extreme stretches of confidence and frustration. The trades have messed up his flow (like everyone else). But it's time to give him an extended shot to get himself back into rhythm. Start him, and give him an extended look (5 games?) and a chance to get back on track.
The Cavs know a thing or two about falling from NBA's graces as well. When LeBron James took his talents to warmer weather and into Dwyane Wade's arms, the Cavs went from a 61-win team to the bottom of the barrel. Their season was always going to be an uphill battle without James. But since LeBron and the Miami Heat stomped the pride out of his former team on December 2, the Cavs have only one game in their last 19 tries. Ironically, their single victory came over the New York Knicks on December 18.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 01/09/11 12:28 PM MST ]
Alvin Gentry Vows Changes For Sinking Phoenix Suns - SB Nation Arizona
"Last year we could play guys whenever we wanted to, who was going good, things like that. I think I've got to find a way to develop some consistency in the rotations and who's going to play and when they're going to play and them have a good feel as to when they're going to come in the game and stuff like that. This team's not a team that can play ten guys. I do understand that now. There's going to be three, four guys that are not going to be in the rotation."
Gentry will start Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, Grant Hill, Vince Carter and Steve Nash tonight and said that he would stick with that starting unit for the next ten games and stop trying to adjust to what other teams were doing.
- "Obviously, I'm not immune to criticism of what we're trying to get done...At the end of the day, I'm responsible for guys playing well and developing a chemistry and I've got to get that done."
- "You add new guys to the mix that have some versatility and you try to put them in those positions and stuff but it was something that didn't work. It hasn't worked. In my case, I just have to try and establish some more consistency and a pattern of rotations and substitutions and see if that's something that can help with the overall mindset of a guy and how he plays."
- "This is going to be it. I can pretty much tell you that whoever starts tonight is probably going to starts for the next ten games."
- "We've got to play more up tempo and get into the open court more."
- It's been up tempo here in 1976. That's what the fans are used to.
- The purpose of signing Zabian Dowdell was to be able to rest Nash during practice. Zabian came close to making team last time he was here. Matt needed more work to polish his skills. Zabian has more pro experience.
- "Obviously, (the fans) want you to win, but they want to be able to leave the arena and feel good about they saw and you can't blame them for that."
- The offensive pace and remaining consistent defensively is the immediate goal for tonight.
Here's a couple of fun links looking at Vince Carter (video breakdown) and Earl Clark
In the Suns' 121-96 blowout loss to the Knicks last night, Carter spent a lot of the third quarter pointing. Usually a player will point for props, but there aren't many to be given out in a blowout loss. And since Carter was on the losing side, he surely couldn't have been pointing at the scoreboard. So, what was he pointing at?
Orlando Magic 110, Houston Rockets 95: Locker-Room Notes - Orlando Pinstriped Post
"I think that Earl is going to be a really, really good player. I really do," said Van Gundy.
"He's offensively very talented: he's got great quickness, he can shoot the ball, he can put it on the floor. He is a very hard-working guy. He's the first guy in here every day. He comes in on every off day. Every game he doesn't play in, if you go in the gym afterwards, he's in there working out after games [at] 10 o'clock at night."