It's all been said before. The Suns have had one of the toughest schedules in the entire league in the early going and are still a respectable 6-6. While it's not quite the 14-3 start we were surprised with last season, it shows that this team can win against some solid teams. It also has showed that the current squad has the ability to completely fold and get blown out against good teams.
The Suns are still a work in progress. With Steve Nash definitely out for tonight and possibly the next, the Suns will turn to third-year guard Goran Dragic, who floundered a bit in his first start of the season. The good thing about tonight's game is that we're not exactly facing the most intimidating of inside presences. The Bobcats are starting our old beloved/hated point forward Boris Diaw and Nazr Mohammed. Again, not the most intimidating frontcourt. However, as with any team, if you don't play defense, even Shelden Williams can look like a legitimate force. (If you recall in the game against the Nuggets, he was looking like the go to guy on offense in the early on until the Suns realized that he was Shelden Williams, and subsequently started defending him.)
The bottom line is this: the Bobcats, while not exactly an Eastern Conference powerhouse, were still a playoff team. They haven't made many changes to their lineup, so what you saw last year is likely what you'll get this season. They currently sit at 13th in the conference with a record of 4-8, but they also just recently put up a fight against a Heat team that we were destroyed by. All positive thinking for the Bobcats aside, they are still a team with a .333 winning percentage that has only beaten last year's bottom dwellers. The Suns know this and adequately should come out and take care of business.
With Nash out for the next couple games, the Suns will be handing the starting PG position over to Dragic. Also, as has been for the last few games, with Lopez out with his sprained PCL and MCL, Channing Frye will be getting the nod. The rest of the starting lineup remains, as far as we know, intact. As far as the Bobcats go, I believe their lineup will be that which it has been all season.
Starting Lineups, Matchups, And Other Things Of That Nature
PG: Goran Dragic / D.J. Augustin
SG: Jason Richardson / Stephen Jackson
SF: Grant Hill / Gerald Wallace
PF: Hedo Turkoglu / Boris Diaw
C: Channing Frye / Nazr Mohammed
Of the starting matchups, the one I'm most interested to see is that of Hedo vs. Boris. Both are point forwards, not known for their defensive prowess, and are wary of entering the paint. Of course, I'm looking forward to see how Dragic bounces back from his disastrous first quarter in Orlando against a much lesser competition in Augustin, but Hedo is really the guy we need to get going.
As has been the case almost all year (and likely will be, barring any sort of trades), the Suns bench largely outweighs that of the Bobcats. Dudley, Warrick and Childress against Gerald Henderson, Eduardo Najera and Tyrus Thomas? No contest. I predict a huge night for the bench, who, for whatever reason, just was unable to get it going against the Magic. Aside from Earl Clark. Which was weird in and of itself.
Speaking of Clark, the disappointing second year lottery pick had a bit to say of his surprisingly efficient performance in Orlando. "Hopefully, I can build on it and keep doing positive things like this. I tried to be aggressive, not think too much and focus on the defensive end," said Clark.
I'm not banking on another big night from the kid, but if he's going to turn a corner, it's going to be now. With the Suns having declined his $2.03 million option for next season, it's time for Earl to prove himself in the limited chances he's given with the depth of this Phoenix team. Whether that's to prove to the Suns that he really can play or to showcase his talents for the rest of the league, Clark knows that opportunities like this don't come around often.
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