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Open Gameday Thread - Suns vs Clippers

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season

Staples Center
January 11th, 2009, 1:30 PM MST / 3:30 PM EST
My 45 HD, 620 KTAR
Probable starters:
Steve Nash PG Mardy Collins
Jason Richardson SG Eric Gordon
Grant Hill SF Al Thornton
Amare Stoudemire PF Brian Skinner
Shaquille O'Neal C Marcus Camby
Official Suns Game Notes

When these teams met eight days ago the Clippers gave the Suns a run for their money after being down 21 points with 6 minutes to go. In that game the Suns when focused for portions of the first and fourth periods went on big runs against a depleted Clippers team. For the rest of the game the team displayed a disappointing lack of effort leading Coach Porter to express his dissatisfaction (and Amare to make excuses).

The Clippers for their part are getting the most out of their rookie shooting guard Eric Gordon and their fourth option at point guard Mardy Collins. As Clipper Steve told us on the pregame podcast, the Clippers are playing hard despite (or because?) their big stars are on the bench.

As is the case in games like this, the Suns biggest obstacle will be themselves. If they can carry forward the effort and enthusiasm from the big win against the Mavs then we should see Dudley, Tucker and Dragic get garbage time minutes. As Shaq perscribes, the key is consistent play.

The performance in this game will tell if the win over the Mavs was a fluke that took advantage of a poor night by the opponent or if it was the start of the next phase of this team's progression.

Two things to look for:

1) Better communication on defense. After the loss to the Pacers we heard a lot about how the Suns don't communicate well on defense. Only Shaq and Hill typically talk which is a key to good team D. In the Dallas game I heard from both the Suns announcers and read somewhere that the Mavs announcers also commented on how much more the Suns were talking on D and how different that was. Let's hope this continues (although it will be hard to tell at home watching on TV).

2) Busting the zone. We learned from Clipper Steve that MDrSr has been playing a LOT of zone with his young team of reserves. The Suns need to bust the zone with patience and good passing and not settle for outside shooting. Look for a lot of high low entry passing from Amare to Shaq or Grant to a guard cutting baseline.

I am also looking forward to getting my first good look at young Eric Gordon. I am still a natural skeptic when it comes to young players on bad teams who put up big numbers and then flame out.

Be sure to check out Clippers coverage over at Clips Nation. I stole their line up card format as you can clearly tell.

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