2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
| || |
|TD Bankrupt Garden|
|January 19th, 2009, 6:00 PM MST / 9:00 PM EST|
|TNT , 620 KTAR|
|Steve Nash||PG||Rajon Rondo|
|Jason Richardson||SG||Ray Allen|
|Grant Hill||SF||Paul Pierce|
|Amare Stoudemire||PF||Kevin Garnett|
|Shaquille O'Neal||C||Brian Scalabrine (?)|
|Official Suns Game Notes|
Amare finished Sunday's game against the Raptors strong with 4th quarter production of 3 offensive rebounds and 11 points which included 8 trips to the line. His 31 points were the most since his 49 against the Pacers last year.
Amare said after the game that it's time for him to bring his "Gorilla Game" which if nothing else is recognition of how ungorilla-like he's been playing of late.
If Gorilla Amare shows up and plays KG like he did last year in the Feb 22 matchup then the Suns have a good chance of winning this game. You might recall that Amare D'd up KG and fought him tough getting under the skin of the Big Ticket drawing a T and get getting KG in foul trouble. After that game Shaq said this about his new team mate:
Shaq continued his humble approach and praised Stoudemire. "Amare Stoudemire is the best big man in the game right now - period, bar none," O’Neal said. "I didn’t know he was that good. But talking to him and watching him play, he’s the best big man in the game at 25, and I mean that. I’m not just saying that to pump him up."
For all his low e'ffo'rt g'am'es this season Amare is still this guy. He still can step up and Go Gorilla on KG's ass and if he does the Suns will win this game.
Back in reality however, there are plenty of reasons to think that the Suns should lose this game. If they do (and compete) then most folk will accept that outcome as expected.
Beyond Amare Going Gorilla however, there are a few other match ups that I like for the Suns so I am going to focus on why the Suns can win this game.
How the Suns can beat the King of the Mountain
Shaq. It starts and ends with The Big Mountain Goat himself. The C's look like they will be without Perkins for this game which means that Scalabrini and Davis will get big minutes. If KG starts on Shaq (or at any point is on Shaq) look for the Suns to work the post and try and pound KG into a) submission b) foul trouble c) double team.
If they put Davis or (OMG!) Scalabrini on Shaq then you can expect more of the same. Basically, I am saying that without Perkins the Celtics are going to struggle matching up with Shaq.
And let's say for the sake of argument that KG is doing a solid job on Shaq and the Suns don't want to go that way. That will leave either Davis or Scal on Amare. Would you want to be a Celtics fan hoping that Davis can come out to the elbow and have chance of staying in front of Amare or perhaps see how Scal does with him in the paint.
The more you think about this game (without Perkins) the more of an advantage the Suns should have on the front line.
JRich. On the wing you have Rondo and Allen. You know the C's will put Rondo on Nash to try and shut him down. In fact Rondo will do a solid job shutting down Nash. The thing is the Suns don't need Nash to play big to win this game.
JRich should absolutely abuse Ray Allen either off the dribble from the wing or posting up. If Jason plays smart and is aggressive he will get by Allen and into the lane creating havoc, drawing fouls and finding wide open team mates. Pierce can't afford to help off Hill either because if left open he can get the 14 points he needs to get to 14,000 for his career.
Then you go to Barbosa who when he's on the floor with Nash is another guy that they simply will not be able to contend with.
In fact, I would look for the Suns to play a three guard line up with Nash, LB and JRich for times when Pierce is out of the game.
The Suns have scored over 100 points in 19 of the last 20 games while the C's are holding teams to 91. Without Perkins, the Suns balanced and varied attack should overwhelm the Celtics swarming defense.
Defense. The keys to the Celtics offense are Pierce and Rondo. Fortunately, the Suns strongest individual defender is Grant Hill who will match up with Pierce and hopefully can at least make things difficult for him. Barnes also should be able to focus on that match up as well.
Rondo's match up with Nash is a bigger problem. The Suns will obviously try and sag off Rajon and go under screens forcing him to shoot jumpers. They will cheat off him daring him to shoot. You might also see JRich take him for a time and put Nash on Ray Allen where he can focus on denying the three point shot and forcing him into help defense.
The Suns will run a lot of zone and strong side zone to deny Rondo and Pierce easy access to the lane. Let's not forget that the only team giving up more turnovers then the Suns are the Celtics.
Which all leads us to Amare. We've seen KG go off on Amare for 40 in Minnesota and we saw Amare last year do a great job D'ing him up.
Amare should focus on KG and not worry about rebounding or helping. He should get up in KG's face and deny him the ball and access to the boards. All Amare needs to do is hold KG in check for the Suns to win. And all I need to do is pick five numbers correctly to win the lottery. I like the odds on Amare slightly better.