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Preview: Suns vs Heat (JRich's Defensive Challenge)

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On Monday before the team headed to the airport they held a brief practice with only the "low minutes" guys actually working up a sweat. Lou, Clark, Collins, Dragic, Tucker and Griffin got some floor time in while the rest of the guys went to the treatment room for..brownies treatment before the flight to Florida.

In a first for me, Coach Gentry took his media questions while sitting in a chair getting his hair cut. You will be glad to know that he did a great job keeping his head still while answering.

A couple of Gentry points of emphasis:

  • He's not all that impressed with being 3 and 0, "It's not like we are 30 and 0"
  • While winning every game is always the goal, he also talked about getting the team better so the Suns are playing their best ball in April. He talked specifically about getting more consistent defensively and mentioned the break downs in the transition D in the game against the T-wolves
  • Also mentioned Amare's continued week by week improvement and asked once again for patience saying that in 10 or 15 games he'll be finishing some looks that he's not yet able to convert
  • Gentry is pleased with where the team is conditioning-wise saying the the team is further along then he thought there were after seeing the first three games. He felt conditioning was important at the end of both the Clippers and Warriors game and that the let down at the end of the T-wolves game was more mental than anything else
  • Amare is doing a good job attracting a crowd and most coaches prefer to stop the dunk and try and rotate out on the three point shooters. That's getting Channing a lot of open looks along with Steve's ability to read the defense and find the open man
  • Gentry called this road trip a good test and expects Jarron Collins to play against the bigger centers the Suns will face in Miami, Orlando and Boston
  • Coach said that he likes having either Frye or Amare in with the second unit so look for Lou Amundson to sub in early

Miami Game Preview

The Heat start and go and score and destroy and live and so far this season have not died behind D Wade. This will be a great early season test for the new and defensively improved Jason Richardson.

Hopefully, Jason will take the challenge and realize that he doesn't need to score 25 for the Suns to win this game. If he can hold Wade to an inefficient game (sub 40% shooting) that would be amazing. So amazing.

Of course, the Bulls held Flash to 25 points on only 8 of 19 shooting and still gave up 95 points in the loss.

Miami is reportedly playing pretty solid defense this year which will certainly be a change over what the Suns faced in the Clippers, Warriors and Timberwolves. The Heat have the best opponent's field goal percentage with 38% and have held the Knicks, Pacers and Bulls to an average 88 points per game.

The Suns are going to need to score at least 105 to beat Miami which will likely come down to Channing Frye's ability to continue to hit the three. When his shot goes cold the Suns are going to struggle in the half court with Amare still in recovery mode.

Paul Coro is reporting from Miami that Leandro's wrist is still very sore and he likely won't play today despite what the team said yesterday.

Game Links

Preview Mashup

[Preview by Eutychus , 11/03/09 2:09 PM MST ]

Along with their match-ups against the Wizards and the Sixers – tonight’s game against the Heat is going to be one of the Suns better opportunities to get a W in the next 5 game stretch. Not to mention it will be an opportunity for redemption after the Heat swept the two game series with us last year. . . (and BTW… the first game we lost last year against Miami – Nash was a DNP because of a thigh contusion and D.Wade put up 40+ on Bell… the second game we lost Amare was out with his eye and D.Wade put up a 35 point 16 assist clinic on Richardson.. and it sounds like we won’t have LB contributing much if at all today, so it should be pretty interesting yet again)

Regardless, tonight will be the first game of the season for both the Heat and the Suns against an opponent who isn’t a bottom-feeder – so it should be a good initial measuring stick for our defensive improvements before heading into 2 games against Orlando and Boston in which our defense will need to be operating at maximum capacity.

Though everyone has mentioned a few of these already, here are a few questions I have for tonight’s game:

  1. JRich v. D.Wade? : If it’s a question of who’s the better player there is no doubt it is D.Wade, but it’s not – it’s a question of whether or not JRich’s rekindled focus on improved defense will prove effective in his 2nd game of the season against the reigning scoring champ (welcome back JRich). Like already mentioned – I can see Dudley, Hill, and even Clark sharing some big responsibilities tonight in attempting to contain D.Wade.
  2. 3 for 6? : As in, will Frye continue his hot streak and have a third consecutive game with 6 three pointers drained? I’m anxious to see if Frye’s outside game will stay somewhat consistent or if we’ll see him lay an egg as he faces tougher defenses here on this road-trip… that being said, I don’t know if I consider J.O. to be a great center who can close out fast enough on a three point shooting big like Frye – add to that his broken nose and a possibility that he might play extra soft today and I like Frye’s match-up with J.O.
  3. Guarding the Other Guards? : Another question is if Steve Nash and Goran Dragic can keep the versatile guards in 3 point sleeper Cook (who is also coming back from being recently injured) and Chalmers from having big offensive nights. I’m not terribly worried about this match-up – I’m actually confident that Nash will frustrate them on the offensive end while Goran will frustrate them on D – should be fun to watch regardless.
  4. Who Will Step Up? With LB hurt and likely not playing we will need one of our 2nd unit players (besides the Starters A.G. hopes to play with the bench at times) to step up offensively for a big night. Will it be Goran with another slick shooting night? Will Studly Dudley find his corner touch? Will Lou Pogo his way to the FT stripe and show off his new skills? Or will Clark come up big and give us some rookie footage to be proud of? We’ll have to see – and with the Heat bringing both Haslem (who has been on fire) and Cook off the bench they have a few good weapons.
  5. Continued Improvement from Amare? Will we see continued improvement from Amare tonight? Though this might be a reoccurring question every night STAT will get a good look at a few good PFs in Beasley and Haslem as well as having his weak side and/or help D tested as D.Wade will no doubt make constant moves down the lane and through the paint throughout the night. I’m confident Amare will have a big game.

It will be a fun game to watch for sure!