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Game Preview - Suns vs Clippers

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2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Logo_suns_medium
vs.
Lac1_70_medium
28-23 13-40
US Airways Center
February 17th, 2009, 7:00 PM MST / 9:00PM EST
FSN AZ, 620 AM
Probable starters:
Steve Nash PG Baron Davis
Leandro Barbosa SG Eric Gordon
Grant Hill SF Al Thornton
Amare Stoudemire PF Zach Randolph
Shaquille O'Neal C Brian Skinner

Game #1: Suns version 4.0 / 08-09

Thirty-one games left in this rocky season and the home stretch starts with this back-to-back set with the Clippers. I know some of us might want to see the hope in that scheduling quirk, but don't think for a second that our fourth version of the 2008-09 Phoenix Suns will have an easy time of it.

The Clippers have played hard and will not roll over and play Wilson Chandler to our Nate Robinson, allowing us to step up off their kneeling backs.

On the other hand, a win against the Clippers won't mean too much. The analogy I used in the Pregame Podcast was a great golf shot that you hit 1 out of every 10 strokes. The Suns will look great on occasion but that doesn't mean that will be a great team with this roster.

It is the ultimate irony that people are excited about going back to a style of play that was heavily criticized both locally and nationally for not being able to win in the playoff's. Only this time, Nash is even older and creakier and the wizard of offense himself is gone.

I just don't see how trying to replicate that old magic will result in anything more than fools gold.

I don't see how Gentry will be able to somehow magically find a way for Shaq, Nash and Amare to sustain success on the same team.

I look for some nice, early energy and wins but within a few weeks we will be bemoaning the same old things. Enjoy the fast pace because it is only going to get you to the same place, but quicker.

Jason Richardson won't play tonight due to his suspension, which will give us a nice look at a Nash / Barbosa backcourt, with some heavy minutes for Tucker, as well. The question will be if Gentry gets Dragic into this game backing up Nash or if he will use a 3-guard rotation and play Nash heavy minutes.

From all Gentry has said so far, we should expect to see some bastardized version of last year's Suns, so expect lots of Nash handling the ball, not a lot of bench, some Shaq but more Amare and all of that great D'Antoni defense we've missed this season (minus, of course, Marion, Bell and Diaw).

Notes from Gentry's First Suns Practice

Courtesy of Sports 620 KTAR

  • Following a brief meeting with the players, Gentry held an hour-and-a-half practice Monday --
  • Gentry said he wants to try and limit Nash's minutes (hasn't every coach said that?) to about 30 a game, meaning we may see a player like a Goran Dragic, if for only a 4-5 minute stretch
  • Gentry said he received a call last night from Mike D'Antoni. He wouldn't say what they talked about, but did say that they talk somewhat on a regular basis

Post practice audio in which we hear...

  • Gentry - It's a tough situation to keep Nash sitting and limiting his minutes
  • Hill - Gentry is the perfect person to take over. He's been here for a long time and knows the team's strengths and weaknesses
  • Nash - We need to look forward, put a lot of what happened behind us. Find energy and swagger and play consistently (you can just put this Nash quote on a loop)
    Nash - It's not a difficult decision to run. Other than Shaq, we have a team of guys that played that way at their most successful points. Shaq proved at the end of last year that he's a great addition to that team
    Nash - You can't expect after 4 or 5 months of playing one way to just go back, especially since there's really only 3 of us played in that old system

I love how Nash contradicts himself with no shame right there. It's a no-brainer to play fast (the way he wants to play) because everyone except Shaq's played that way, BUT don't expect too much too soon because only three of us played in that system.

I am less and less impressed with how Steve has handled this season, but also, of course, fault Sarver and Kerr for not getting the buy-in of his star players before signing off on Porter and his system.

This entire mess has been a gigantic failure of leadership and hopefully will be a meaningful lesson for our General Manager moving forward. There are some basic principles of organizational dynamics and change management that Kerr obviously hasn't had the opportunity to learn while playing with M.J. or broadcasting on TNT.

There is a big gap between having great basketball knowledge and being able to successfully navigate a change scenario.

Poll

Now that Gentry has replaced Porter and it's looking like Amare is staying a Suns how are you feeling...

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Better - the Suns will win about 23 of their last 30 games
    (109 votes)
  • 22%
    Meh - it won't make a difference. Suns will win about 17 of 30
    (38 votes)
  • 3%
    Bleh - team is going down hill fast. Suns will be lucky to win 15 of 30
    (5 votes)
  • 8%
    Terry Porter? Wasn't he a great player once?
    (14 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now