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Preview and Game Thread: Suns vs Raptors

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Final - 11.15.2009 1 2 3 4 Total
Toronto Raptors 33 20 26 21 100
Phoenix Suns 31 19 27 24 101

Complete Coverage >

[Note by Phoenix Stan, 11/15/09 5:18 PM MST ]

Coach Gentry Pre-game Notes

  • Coach had the Cards game on the TV in his office
  • The Raptors are great scoring team - you have to put up a lot of points to beat them
  • Talking about the key to running, Gentry said the 1st three steps are key as is the spacing. The Suns don't track fast break points internally the same way. If they move the ball a couple of times and get an open look that counts as an FB
  • Asked if he was worried about the Raptors front court size, Gentry said they are no Bynum and Odom. He didn't use the "Euro long" phrase that he used in practice yesterday but that's what he meant
  • Gentry said once again that the best defensive team is the one with the most points at the end of the game
  • Most impressive thing about the Suns so far is the resiliency. Gentry was very impressed with the come-back win in Philly at the end of the road trip
  • The togetherness and chemistry is also a plus
  • Channing Frye is still adjusting to taking so many shots
  • Gentry called Jared the "glue guy" and said that when he plays the 4 the Suns are small but can switch things more
  • Asked (by me) about Brandon Jennings 55 point game, Gentry said that he had a good game and that he's a talented guy. He called it interesting

If you like scoring this game is for you. And if you like scoring by two teams that do it the "right way" with point guards who distribute the ball, big men that are versatile and skilled, wings that can both slash and shoot and role players that scrap and fight then this game is REALLY for you.

Coach Gentry at practice yesterday called the Toronto a "mirror image" of the Suns which their ability to spread the floor, move the ball and also attack the rim. The difference between the two teams and the advantage statistically for the Suns is on the defensive end.

The Raptors (113.7) and Suns (110.8) are #1 and #3 in the league in offensive efficiency.

Whereas Toronto is playing like a team still getting used to the accelerator the Suns are focused on the lessons learned over the years of fast paced driving. In Phoenix, the high-efficiency offense is a given which is a luxury the Raptors haven't yet earned and this allows Gentry's team to spend more emphasis on defense and rebounding.

The Suns still have work to do but at 107 points per 100 possessions are far ahead of the NBA's worst 112 defensive efficiency rating of the Raptors.

For a more in-depth look at the Raptors season so far let's check in with Adam from SBN sister site Raptors HQ:

So currently the Raptors sit a game above .500 at 5 and 4. To some, this might look like an underperforming record, especially based on losses to Memphis and San Antonio that should in all probability have been W's.
However taking into account a new coaching group and system, nine new players, injuries to key players in pre-season, and an extremely tough schedule to kick off the year, I'd have to say that all things considered, 5-4 looks pretty good. I actually picked the team to start at 5 and 13 so they're way ahead of schedule.
Part of the reason they're ahead of my prediction is their offense. Chris Bosh is putting up MVP-esque numbers after a summer of dedicating himself to becoming more of a low-post presence, and the additions of players like Hedo Turkoglu, and Marco Belinelli off the bench, has given this team's offense a serious shot in the arm. Add on some improved play from Andrea Bargnani and when this team's offense is on, they are just deadly because they can hurt an opponent in so many ways; from using the 3 ball to stretch out a defense, to feeding Bosh for isolations on the blocks.
However there's a flip side to this coin.
While the offense has taken a step forward, the defense has taken at least two back. This in itself is incredible considering how poor the Raptors were defensively the past two seasons but it's true, outside of the past two games, Toronto was giving up an obscene amount of points to opponents. Even in the past two wins, where the Dinos managed to keep the Bulls and Clips under 100 points, Toronto got themselves into huge holes early thanks to exactly 0 defensive intensity. It's this flip-side that has done them in in winnable games at times and has prevented comebacks in others.
So as it stands, offensively the Raptors have a chance to be one of the best in the league, however until they at least play some modicum of defense, I think this is going to be at best a .500 team; beating a Cleveland one night thanks to hot shooting, losing to a Minny the next, unable to get stops.

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