For some of us, this matchup is a Godsend in the sense that it may turn our attention to a basketball game and off the trade rumors. But let's get real, everything Amare does tonight is going to be scrutinized (that's assuming he isn't traded before tip-off). He puts in 20 in the first quarter and many of us will have that fleeting epiphany: "We can't get rid of him, no way." Then maybe he'll pick up 4 fouls before the half and get out-rebounded by Zebo 15-1 and we'll think: "OK just get it over with-SOON."
On to the game tonight in Memphis...The Grizzlies have lost 4 in a row, their last defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks on Feb 9. Before that, defeat against the Timberwolves, 109-102, and two straight drubbings at the hands of the Rockets and Cavaliers.
The Grizzlies currently sit a game behind New Orleans, in the cellar of the Southwest Division standings at 26-25 and 3 games back of Portland for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies own a 2-1 record versus the Suns this season. The Suns won in November, 126-111, and lost in January, 128-103, and 125-118. In the first meeting, the Suns shot the lights out, 62% overall and 53% from behind the arc. And while the Suns were destroyed on the boards 49-29 (giving up 22 offensive rebounds), it didn't much matter as they outscored the Grizz 71-50 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
On January 2, O.J. Mayo went off for 25 points on 10-16 shooting while this Sam Young guy came off the bench for 22 points and a mindblowing +31 (if you're into the +/- thing). Again the Grizzlies dominated the boards, and had plenty of opportunities as the Suns shot 45% from the field, including a 4-20 combined effort from Channing Frye and Jason Richardson.
On January 18 the Suns forgot (again) how to defend, allowing impressive efforts from Rudy Gay (31 points), O.J. Mayo (28), and Zach Randolph (27). Again Frye and Richardson failed to impress, going 5-15, while Amare only managed 12, and the Suns shot 49% while committing 16 turnovers.
I cannot pretend to know what is going on in the minds of each Phoenix Suns player. All that's left are questions. What defines the Phoenix Suns? Was it the 5 games winning streak? Or was it the poor effort and performance against the Trail Blazers?
Are these Phoenix Suns focused on winning? Or is the Amare sideshow controlling the locker room? OK, I said the A word again, where will his head be?:
"Right now, I'm a Phoenix Sun. if anything changes, I'll play and act the same way."
As it applies to tonight's contest, will Nash and he be gassed from their whirlwind All-Star weekend?
Regardless, the Suns need to come out and win. Somehow.
Block out the rumors and media, focus on basketball.
Mayo, Gasol, Gay and Randolph will be a load to manage. The Suns will need every bit of Robin Lopez's A-game, a somewhat focused Amare (if that's possible), and significant contributions on the boards from Amundson and Hill. That's just for starters. The Suns have had serious problems containing opponent's guards from going off and tonight will be a huge challenge. Nash shouldn't have too much trouble slowing Conley from creating, however with all the All-Star game festivities and plane travel, who knows what kind of shape he'll be in. Rudy Gay and Sam Young will keep Grant Hill and Jared Dudley very busy. Young poured in a career high in the January 2 meeting versus the Suns while Gay averages 20 ppg in 14 match ups versus the Suns.
From the infamous tweet of Jason Richardson:
Final stretch of season start 2night Only 29 games left in season n everyone counts from here on out especially in the west conf. Need the W