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Preview: Suns vs Jazz Once more unto the breach

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Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Sunsgorilla_medium

Or close the wall up with our Phoenix dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest Suns.

The game's afoot:

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

 

This is it my friends. The Nuggets came through and covered our loss in Portland but time is running out. 10 games left. 3 games back.

Once more unto the breach

This time the breach is the Rocky Mountain home of the Utah Jazz where the of screaming zealots have provided a celestial advantage (30 - 6) following on last year's heavenly 37 - 4. 

Compare that to the sinful results of the wandering band (14-21 this year and 17-24 last) and one has to wonder what divine intervention might be at work in the Valley of the Angels.

Or perhaps we should question how good a coach Jerry Sloan really is if his team can only win at home.

The Jazz are .408 on the road and .870 at home over their past 153 games. How is a 47% swing in conceivable for the same team? Tell us Jerry Sloan. Enlighten us with your homespun wisdom as to why your team can't win on the road? Is it the headbands? It is the powder blue uni's?

Perhaps on the road the Jazz are unable to escape the tight restrictions on their music and cell phone usage and they are so bound-up from the Sloan Rules that they can't play well.

Whatever it is you have to look first at the coach and until this is resolved let us never again mention the fact that Sloan hasn't won Coach of the Year.

It is an interesting intellectual question (as intellectual as basketball questions can be) but irrelevant to the Suns chances for a much needed road win in the place where teams go to repent.

Once more unto the breach

 

The Suns were able to beat the Jazz three days ago mainly due to the exceptional bench play and the efficacy of the zone defense. Boozer and Okur combing to go 13-34 helped as well as did the Jazz turibul free throw shooting - 59%.

It is hard to imagine that the Great Jerry Sloan won't have a better answer for the zone having had two full days to prepare and young bench units are exciting but typically inconsistent especially on the road.

As for Boozer and Okur, well who knows but I seriously doubt they will both have poor shooting nights again. Boozer anyway may be feeling some relief having just filed for divorce. In my experience women get all depressed once these things are official while men typically are relieved and energized.

All of this makes for a tough task for the Suns. Perhaps it is too much to except a win tonight with so many things stacked against our boys. What I would like to see is the continued energy and effort that was missing in Wednesday Portland game.

That performance was forgivable, but another tonight is not. Well, of course it is forgivable but it would certainly be disappointing.

Keys to stealing this one and driving a stake through the home crowd's collective heart

  • Lou Amundson and Paul Milsap. Lou played Milsap well in the last game hanging right with him on points and rebounds. That needs to happen again
  • Shaq and Nash were the leaders on the floor in the first half against the Blazers keeping the game close for two periods.They are going to need to do so again tonight
  • Grant will need to have another big game as will JRich. Ronnie Brewer is very good defender so more of the scoring will likely have to come from Hill
  • Dragic out-played Knight forcing Williams back into the game early and he tired down the stretch. The Jazz were on the second of a back to back in that game though and will be better rested. Still, Dragic needs to dominate that matchup with Brevin which is a lot to ask from our rookie
  • Either Lopez or Swift will need to play big and help on the glass. Barnes and Dudley are undersized for this game as they were in Portland
  • The Suns in the zone need to find away to not leave Korver wide open like they did with Rudy who shot 4 of 5 from three in the first half. Korver was 5 - 8 for the Jazz on Wednesday and kept the game closer then it needed to be
  • Not sure how to do this, but the Jazz shooting 59% from the free throw line was a big help in the Suns win. Anyone have any thoughts on how to better defend the free throw line?

Once more unto the breach

A win for the Suns tonight cuts the Mavs lead to 2.5 with a chance to bring that to 1.5 if the Suns win tomorrow against the Kings and the Mav lose to the Cavs. Here's the two teams' schedules.

A loss tonight isn't the end of the playoff chase but a tough close game that wears out our aging vets and carries over to tomorrow's road game in Sacramento might be. I would rather see another blowout loss that keeps our guys rested and I hope that Gentry will once again throw in the towel early if things are bad going into the 4th quarter.

I would much rather see a great unexpected win though. This is the kind of game that legends are made of.

 

View from the Wasatch Valley at SLC Dunk