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Game Day Open Thread: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trailblazers

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Phoenix Suns
at

Portland Trailblazers
39-20 31-29
8:00 PM Mountain / 10:00 PM Eastern
TV: My45 HD, NBA League Pass
Probable starters:
Steve Nash PG Steve Blake
Raja Bell SG Brandon Roy
Grant Hill SF Martell Webster
Amare Stoudemire PF LaMarcus Aldridge
Shaquille O'Neal C Joel Przybilla

I've been waiting since December to say this. You know that nice, impressive season the youthful, Oden-less Trailblazers are putting together? I called it. Way back in September, the day the Blazers announced that newly-acquired franchise center Greg Oden would miss his rookie year with microfracture surgery, here's what I had to say on why Blazer fans should chin up and be ready for a surprising season anyway:

"As bad as it seems (and is) right now in Portland, this is a great opportunity for Blazers fans to experience something similar [to the Suns' 2005-06 season], albeit on a slightly different scale. There have been reports that practically the entire Blazers team has already started voluntary workouts together, and that they have been at it since August. They are young and inexperienced, but it sounds like they have a level of determination comparable to what our Suns did in that Amare-less season. Will it get them to the playoffs? It seems unlikely, though stranger things have certainly happened. But regardless of how their season ends, I do think they'll be a team their fans can be proud of."

What I didn't predict was how big a difference-maker our James Jones gift would be. Just in case you're not already depressed enough by the Suns' recent struggles, remember that we traded Jones and a first round pick to the Blazers for cash. Ugh. But anyway, let bygones be bygones I suppose. (It's not like he was playing that way for us).

The Blazers have cooled off considerably since their 13-game winning streak in December, but they're still capable of pulling off surprises. Like that nice win over the Lakers to close out an otherwise forgettable February. They'll be waiting for the Suns with their "A"-game in hand. It sure would be nice if the Suns packed a few surprises of their own. Blazer's Edge has the view from the other side. Somehow, I feel better after reading their preview.

[Update 11:40 MT]: Hawk42 likes how the Suns match up with the Blazers. On paper, I do too. Let's see if we can make paper translate to actual reality.

"I would like to see DJ on Brandon Roy for extended time. Shaq and Steve finally have a pair of guys they should dominate in Pryzbilla and Blake, or else they should apply for Social Security.
 
When JJ comes in the game, match him with the Lint-man. We all know that JJ doesn't like being played close.
 
I look at this Blazer team, and I don't see how they have any business beating the Suns, except that they are playing together, and we are decidedly not.
 
Webster is the one we can have trouble with, so we need a strong game from Hill and Diaw. Speaking of Diaw, the Blazers really don't have a matchup for him. Boris should be able to spin to the basket with that hook with no problem. If Pryz comes over, dump it to Shaq.
 
We need a game where we show no mercy. My brain considers how badly we've been playing, and envisions a loss, but I will go out on a limb and predict a solid win, 115-110. Just to see if these guys have any guts at all."

I also like Amare in this game. The Blazers are the team he once scored 50 against. I'm sure he hasn't forgotten that.

Update [2008-3-4 21:29:16 by srp]:

Gut check time
After all the talk for the past few days I am predicting a HIGHLY motivated Suns team comes out and gets a solid win.

  • Amare will be a MONSTER
  • The Big Monster will be solid (this is my new favorite pic of the year!)
  • Nash will be the little pissed off white guy that turns green and smashes things like Blake
  • Raja will D up the ex-R.O.Y.
  • Pryz will miss 5 layups
  • Hill will toast Travis O or Martel (JJ is still out w/ a sore wheel right?)
  • And Boris will play the other half of that great game and earn the coveted Full French

There it is. I am calling it. Suns win.-srp

Live blogging returns tonight. Check the comments of this post after tipoff.