Suns won the earlier matchup 101-90, and this time there's no Varejao. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Suns are 24-24 on the season, in desperate need of every win they can get to make a run at a playoff spot. A win on the road against a young, below-.500 team like the Cavaliers is just what the Suns need.
But wait a minute. This is the same Cavs team that BEAT the Suns in Phoenix in January by 11 points (101-90). They outrebounded the Suns 47-39, made 10 steals and sank 10 of 19 3-pointers. Oops. And now the Cavs are on their home floor.
In fact, the Cavaliers are quite dangerous to more teams than the Suns. They are a better-than-unexpected 17-28 on the year, not far off the Suns' record. They boast the clear #1 rookie in the league in Kyrie Irving, a very talented young Trystan Thompson and Antawn Jamison is playing well enough to be wanted back next year. Throw in a quality coach in Byron Scott and you've got a dangerous team every night.
But all is not lost. The good news for the Suns is that the Cavs are not very good at home (9-14 on the year) and they are just 4-6 in their last 10 games. Add in one of the league's worst defenses - horrendous in March - and you just might begin to feel a glimmer of hope.
I wrote earlier today how the Suns have improved month over month this season, and that they are now playing like one of the best teams in the league.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, are fading thanks to a porous defense. While their offense has remained steady (though still below average), their defense has gotten considerably worse as the season progressed. Much of that is due to the loss, yet again, of Anderson Varejao. He has not played since Feb 4, just about the time the Cavs' defense went in the toilet.
The Cavaliers can win if Jamison, Thompson and Irving have HUGE individual games and the Suns come in flat and porous.
But as long as the Suns play their offense to the tune of 100+ points, they should go home with a 2-2 record on this recent road swing. A nice recovery from that dud in Florida, and the egg they laid on their home court against the Cavs earlier this season.
It's a good test for the Suns. On the road. Against a team that beat the Suns in January. David Griffin is smiling right now. Let's hope he goes home with a frown after the game tonight.
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