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Phoenix Suns Practice Report: Strength Of Schedule No Excuse, Except When It Is

The Suns practiced again today. It went kind of long. That's about all I can tell you about that.

The after-practice sessions included Lopez, Lawal, Frye and Siler working on individual post offense and defense against each other in a round-robin sort of  fashion under the watchful eye and scratchy voice of Bill Cartwright, with an assist from Mark West.

The one thing that stood out -- aside from Frye participating in the post moves stuff and not his usual three-point shooting drills -- is just how competitive these guys really are. I know it doesn't always come across on TV and from the stands, but watching them battle against each other up-close, you can't help but notice how much effort these players put into their work. Some pro players might sleep-walk through their careers and not work hard, but in my experience, most of them aren't like that.

Practice, people. Practice.

Strength of Schedule

Nobody likes a whiner, but damn, did the the Suns get the shaft from the league in the early season schedule department or what?

According to our old pal John Hollinger (who really should stick to stuff like this and stay away from asking Gregg Popovich obvious questions*), the Suns have the second hardest schedule in the league so far behind only the LA Clippers.

Hollinger's SOS formula: SOS = Season win/loss percentage of team's opponents, expressed as a decimal (e.g., .500)

The Suns' SOS is .680, just behind the 1-8 Clippers (.684) and ahead of the 1-6 Rockets (.630). Anyone want to guess what the Lakers SOS is? .464 which is 21st in the league. By the way, the Warriors (6-2) have an SOS of .404) and the 3-4 Kings have the lowest SOS in the league at .380.

Numbers, they never lie.

And while it is perfectly acceptable for us to whine, bitch and moan about how unfair life and the NBA are, Gentry (at least on the record) wants no part of that.

"We also go back to the old thing -- we're going to play 41 home games and 41 on the road. I don't know if it matters very much when they come; you've got to be prepared."

Gentry said they've switched practice a bit to get the scrimmage done first to try and get Nash more rest, but at the same time, the team needs to work to cut down on the turnovers, which are the thing bugging the coach most right now.

The Suns are 25th in the league in turnover percentage (.155), which is a big reason they are last in the league in defensive efficiency (111.8 point per 100 possessions), despite being a decent defensive team when you watch them play. The bottom line is, if you are going to give up both offensive rebounds and turn the ball over, you are going to give opponents too many good looks. The Suns are also last in opponents eFG% allowed (.525) thanks to that deadly combination. 

Gentry might not be an advanced stats guy, but he knows darn well that you are shooting yourself in the foot when you defend the team's attack well only to give them too many second chance opportunities and too many fast break points off turnovers. The rebounding is what it is, but the turnovers can and must be fixed.

A TV reporter asked Gentry again about the Nash trade rumors. He's less than amused at the media types who are making that stuff up.

"I didn't even see a reliable source quoted. I don't know where they get these from. I guess you got to sit around and come up with something to think about. I'm going to start making rumors about TV stations and newspapers and magazines closing down."


* Not to rag on John. Everyone's been on the wrong end of a Popovich question, but damn, right after a loss, you have to know better than to ask him that!


[Note by Seth Pollack, 11/11/10 3:55 PM MST ]

Check this out about our old pal Amare. Fun stuff and a great read. Resist the urge to go over to Posting and Toasting and stick your tongue out and say "ha, ha"

Fixing the Knicks' Pick-and-Roll - Posting and Toasting
Though it's early (and any comparison to a Steve Nash-led team is brutally unfair), a Synergy Sports comparison of the ways Amare scored last year with the Suns to this year with the Knicks are telling: with the Suns last season, Amare scored 19 percent of the time on Post-Ups, 18% of the time as the Pick and Roll man, 15% of the time in Isolations, and 14% of the time through Cuts to the basket.

With the Knicks so far this season, a whopping 35% of his scoring has been through Isolations, 12 % through spot-up jumpers, and only 10 percent of the time has his scoring come as the Pick and Roll man.

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