In honor of Opening Day, we are trying something new for Game 1.
Drop me a line or put your preview in the comments below and throughout the day we'll add it here. Check back often! (newest preview at the top)
[Preview by Suns Fan For Life in the comments, 10/28/09 3:16 PM MST ]
[Preview by Eutychus in the comments, 10/28/09 1:47 PM MST ]
It’s a funny picture – many of the national critics have chosen the Clippers to edge out the Suns for a spot in the playoffs this year… a feat that they haven’t accomplished since the 2005-06 season after Mike Dunleavy’s only winning season with the club in 6 years as head coach. On top of that – even the betting odds are in the Clippers favor at +3… WHAT? EXCUSE ME?
Definitely foreign territory for Suns fans – but it made me at least look into why this Clippers team is so hyped. The hype is not without substance, this year this Clippers squad has more weapons than previous Clippers teams – aside from the Blake Griffin pick (btw… I should have taken the Clipper curse into consideration before I drafted that fool…dumb knee-cap) I think some of the most significant developments of this Clipper team that our Suns will be challenged with defensively tonight without Blake Griffin are:
- The acquisition of Rasual Butler: don’t sleep on Butler – he will light it up from 20 ft all day. So while I’m coaching from my house and I scream at the TV, "watch your shooters… watch your shooters!!" – I’m including Butler along side Novak, Gordon, Davis, and Collins, as your most imminent threats on the ‘shooter list’. Having a gang of bigs who can score around the paint only makes this threat more potent – so that’s something the Suns will have to be aware of and put into practice, accountability for closing out on these guys with their simple defense strategy.
- Healthy bigs: Though Sweet Lou is happy that Z.Randolph is no longer a member of the Clips tonight… Camby – Kaman – Skinner – and Jordan still are… (though Camby is still nursing a sore ankle) – keep in mind that most of the bigs didn’t play against us in the two games last season where we put up 140 with insane numbers in the paint. Under this threat we find rebounding and shot blocking to be their strength – none of these guys are stellar pick & roll demons – but i do feel that at any given moment in the front court, both the strong and the weak side are loaded with power and scrappiness and all four guys have pretty good hands for interior passing. Weak side help defense for our Suns is going to need to be executed well in this front court because most of the time we will be over-matched in the post – but our weak side help guys are going to have to pick their poison wisely because of the good hands factor.
- A marginally improved bench: again with the few acquisitions they made in the off-season and the resigning of sniper Novak and the seasoned Skinner I think their bench has marginally improved.. though that might not be hard when their bench last year was outscored by 1000+ pts over the course of the season… ouch. I’m not worried about our bench matching theirs. I think we’ll do well with the defense we bring in our 2nd/3rd units.
- Hyper-Developing youngins: Eric Gordon was one of my favorite rookies to watch last season, and he lived up to all the hype… it doesn’t help that though he averaged around 16 pts last season, he turned it up a notch against Phoenix and averaged over 20 pts/game.. Like I mentioned above in an earlier comment – he will be a nasty match-up for LB (if he does indeed start) with JRich out… heck he’ll be a nasty match-up for whoever is on him. Another Clip who for whatever reason steps up his game to play the Suns is Al Thornton. He’s also another youngin who’s developing in huge strides with every year – I will look for him to be eyeing the rim all game, we need to contain these two young studs.
- A motivated Boom: All reports during the off-season have pointed to Boom Davis being extra excited about the drafting of Blake Superior, even so much that he’s lost a lot of weight and been working more on his conditioning. Add that to the fact that he’s playing against his BFFL Steve Nash and Davis might be the x-factor on any given night for these Clippers. Though he’s listed on the Injury Report as a game-time decision for a bruised right foot – I expect Davis to play, and he’ll look to use and abuse Steve with that big rear end and scraggly beard of his.
So looking at the talent in the starting 5 and all these positives for the Clips this year it’s a little easier to swallow all the excess hype from the sports heads of the national media. BUT – They are still the Clippers. They still have Mike Dunleavy as their head coach and they chronically get injured during the season and/or give up during games (Baron Davis is the worst at this).
I won’t exhaust our biggest challenge, which is rebounding – it needs to be acceptable. Doesn’t have to be good, just acceptable.
The greatest advantage we will have is our style (speed) and our shooting accuracy. We need to use these. The Clips frequently play big – and both Camby and Kaman are not prone to keeping up with a run&gun game – so we will need to try and tire them out. Historically, Amare dominates the Clippers – I expect him to do the same tonight, even if Camby blocks a shot or two of his.
The Suns will win – a lot to a little. That’s my prediction.
I am interested to see if Dunleavy will stray from his volumes of playbooks/lineups and play small and try and run with us… I have a feeling the answer is a stubborn no – but that might be fun to see.
[Preview by Al McCoy via Sports 620 KTAR, 10/28/09 1:35 PM MST ]
[Preview by Paul Coro, 10/28/09 12:38 PM MST ]
azcentral.com - Coro blog
Barbosa to start ... probably
[Preview by Steve Kerr via Sports 620 KTAR, 10/28/09 12:16 PM MST ]
[Preview by antiw0rm from the comments, 10/28/09 9:10 AM MST ]
It’s run and gun again folks. We are back, or so we hope!
After sweeping the series last year against the Clippers the Suns will be looking to have another 140 point game as the season opens up. However impressive that may sound, the Suns will need to take this season in stride as expectations have been lowered and in some circles don’t even involve the playoffs.
Now that we have the Big Wall removed the Suns will have free range at the basket and the ‘Nash to Stoudemire’ will again prevail as a thing of beauty. The last 2 series with the Clippers gave Stat a stat line including averages of 28.8 points and 9.4 rebounds. While he may not be in top shape after missing nearly half a season I would predict that he will have a big game. The Clippers will have a hard time finding somebody to match up with him.
If Fry can find his rhythm as he as stated before, the Clippers will again have another dilemma. Sending Kaman to chase after Fry at the 3 point line will not suffice for long. On the flip side Fry will have a hard time guarding the larger Clippers team and Keeping them off the boards. Kaman/Jordan/Camby will be drooling at the sight of all the rebounds.
With Richardson out the debate has started and still continues. Who will gentry start instead? Can Barbosa start and leave the bench with nearly zero scoring ability? Can Dudley start and provide much needed defensive hustle to the already potent starting lineup? I guess that is for Gentry to decide.
Nash will inevitably have to square up against his other brother from another mother. Baron Davis can give Nash a hard time at the point. However, Davis is playing on a bad foot and forgot to show up for the season opener against the Lakers. This is the key to this game. If the Suns can hold Davis to a bad shooting night and Nash can take advantage of the ailing foot, things will look up.
This is a Clippers team that has hope, despite giving away an average of 124.3 points in 4 games last season, something I believe they have lacked for some time. Last night this team competed with the Lakers despite not having their star draftee, only to be defeated by 10 when all was said and done. Predictions have us battling for playoff real-estate against this squad (I don’t think they are right due to the recent injury to the brother from the same mother Blake Griffin). This is a deep team when they are healthy so we should take nothing for granted. Teams know we show up to score and thus expect to have to score in bunches to win against us. That hasn’t changed.
This is a chance for us to come out of the gates swinging. The Suns schedule gets no easier for the first part of this season. and to start off on the right foot is something I believe this team needs.
LETS GO SUNS!
[Preview by Mike Lisboa, 10/28/09 8:39 AM MST ]
Since Phoenix Stan is all about the proverbs today, I'll add one of my own: it's finally time to see what happens when the proverbial rubber meets the road. The Suns open their season away at Los Angeles tonight.
While the Clippers hung tough against the Lakers last night, I don't think that game was really indicative of what either team is capable of. The Lakers were ice cold for long stretches and without Pau Gasol and the Clippers of course were without Blake Superior (I kind of like that nickname).
One thing I did take from last night's game is that the Clips' first 6 players can hang with any top 6 in the league. Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, Marcus Camby, and Chris Kaman and a healthy Blake Griffin are as potent a 6-man rotation as any in the Association. Both Gordon and Davis have the potential to make life miserable for Steve Nash depending on which defensive assignment he draws. Unless Amar'e, Channing and Grant Hill (Top 25!) bring their A-game to the glass, Camby, Kaman, and Thornton could all post double-doubles inside. Really, if Griffin were active, this squad would give the Suns starters some serious fits.
The good news for the Suns is that aside from Craig Smith, the Clipper's bench looked downright putrid. If the Suns' starters can hold their own, their second unit ought to be able to maintain and even build leads against the Clippers' second line. There might be no better confidence builder this early in the season for Team Hustle than matching up against the likes of Sebastian Telfair, Rasual Butler, DeAndre Jordan, and Ricky Davis.
If the Suns can push the tempo and not get absolutely murdered on rebounds, I like their chances. I see something like a 110-103 final with the purple and orange coming out on top. I'll be there tonight so follow me on Twitter at @MikeLisboa and look for an appearance or two in the Game Thread.