Somebody asked me today how confident I was about the Suns getting the Game 2 win. The answer is, I'm not sure.
After the way the Suns beat the Spurs, Rockets, Jazz and Nuggets to close out the season I would not be surprised if the Suns win by 20. But the way this team played last night I was reminded too much of the December - January period of sub-.500 ball.
One thing's for sure. The Suns took a shot to the chin and we will find out soon enough if this team has a glass jaw or is resilient enough to get up off the canvas and punch back. Every playoff team is going to be tested at some point, for the Suns that test came right after the first bell. Might as well find out now what this team is really made off because as we all know, the playoffs are totally different from the regular season.
Post Practice Thoughts
The general consensus from both teams is that the Suns didn't hit shots that they normally make. The Trail Blazers fully expect the Suns to come out and play better and the Suns couldn't agree more.
Don't expect too many drastic changes from either side but here's a few that I would contemplate:
Kevin Pelton talked about not starting Jarron Collins but I am fine with him starting. Where I wonder if an adjustment couldn't be made is with Lou Amundson closing.
ESPN's Henry Abbott made a great point on the NBA Today podcast that when Lou came out of the game in place of Frye the game was tied at 83 with 6:27 to go. The Blazers would outscore the Suns 16 to 9 in the next 5 minutes to take a 7 point lead into the final 90 seconds of play.
During that time Bayless and Miller scored 9 points and Aldridge flew in for a big tip-in off a miss. With Lou in the game, the Suns probably do a better job containing those guards. Of course, Frye is the game to spread the floor and hit shots but he only scored two points in the fourth quarter and those were on free throws. Overall, Lou played 18 minutes and had 4 points and 4 rebounds while Frye played 30 minutes and had 12 points and 7 rebounds. It's a tough call for sure.
The other adjustment we might see, just speculating here, is Nash staying on Miller. Gentry talked about needing to contain Batum, Webster and Rudy and not let those guys score much. Also, Jason might have been taken out of his offensive rhythm by trying to guard Andre and Miller still was able to score so why not put Nash on him and trust your help defense since you are going to need that anyway. In fact, both Hill and Richardson are better, longer and more athletic help defenders than Nash.
After the jump are my paraphrased notes from all the player interviews. These are not direct quotes but they are close. You can listen to the audio from each player to get their exact words.
- It's one game and they out played us. Those guys, they're going to be in every game. Most of the games are going to be decided by one or two possessions. We were up two points with five minutes to go and we have a bad defensive rotation where they made a three and we had a turnover and that got them some separation
- Miller and Bayless played great and Batum was that support guy they needed. We have to eliminate one of the wild card guys
- Camby did a great job on Amare. He's long, no reason to expect anything else. Amare missed some shots also that he would normally make. We'll still go to Amare. We have to do what we do. We're not going to change what we done, we're just going to do it better
- We did not do a good job containing their guards
- We didn't shoot the ball well. We started out shooting well from three. I thought we did a great job defensively for the most part except contain the guards
- They did a good job. They ran a couple of things we have to adjust to. That's Andre's game. Bayless did a good job getting around the corner
- We have to the adjustments since they won. I assume they will play the same way
- Andre is a real smart player. He loves playing basketball. He'll play anytime, anywhere. Takes care of his body, doesn't get hurt. What he does, he does well. He's a post up guard that can get the ball down there and do things
- We've been in a lot tougher situations than this one. We were down 3-1 and had to win in LA. It's one game. It happens, it happens. We haven't lost confidence
- No rust. We just didn't shoot the ball well and they did a good job closing out on some shooters. In a half court situation they are the second best defensive team in the league. Great rotations.
- You have to shoot the ball well. They make you throw over the top and make shots and they are totally committed to what they do. You have to make those the whole game.
- I've known Nate a long time, he's not a real flexible guy. What they do, they do great. You have to prove time and time again that you can beat them
- We are who we are. You have to tweak a few things but at the end of the day we were up 2 points with five minutes and we didn't close the game out. We have to be solid defensively and execute offensively. We have to get Amare involved
- I recruited Nate when he was in junior college at Chowan Junior College. I've known Nate a long time. He's done best job coaching this year
- We just got to play better. I don't think we played a good game. Just got to do a better job on both ends of the floor and play up to our standard
- Bayless gave them a spark off the bench. Known Jerryd for awhile now. Great to see him progress
- Practice was good. We worked hard. Have to come out tomorrow with a great attitude. Play better. Not give up so many layups. It's simple, we don't have to reinvent the wheel
- We did some good things but not enough of them. I don't have any genius quotes for you to change the game of basketball
- We were up a couple of points with 5 minutes to go in the game so we were right there
- Amare wasn't getting the freedom he wants. We have to do a better job getting him the ball where he can thrive
- We've got enough weapons to score enough to win the game and our defense was pretty solid
- We got a lot of good looks. We missed a lot of wide open three's. Hopefully we will be sharper in game 2
- They slow the game down and use their length and zone everything up. They are good defensive team
- Andre got to the basket alot. We've got to take away the layups and make him more jumpers. We have to bring help
- We didn't quite have the spirit or energy collectively that we had in the last few games of the regular season
- Sometimes you can never predict. I thought we played hard. We didn't have that spark that we needed. Bio rhythms
- I don't think there was let down b/c of Roy. Most teams have a guy like Brandon that can carry the load offensively. Most teams don't have two long 7 footers that can make life difficult for Amare
- I think we will play better offensively. I believe that. I give us a fighting chance against anybody
- You've got to credit them for taking us out of our comfort zone and making us play that way. It's a battle of wills. We have to be more disciplined and not be suduced into playing their way. They don't want to be suduced into playing our way.
- Thankfully it is seven games and not one like the NCAA tournament so we get a chance to come back tomorrow and get a win and feel good about ourselves
- Good after practice work out. Much needed. Just wanted to get a few extra shots up and get into a rhythm. Last night we didn't have a rhythm
- Every time I caught the ball in the post they have five guys in the lane. That's a sign of respect, their whole team tried to guard me
- They had the whole team trying to prevent myself getting to the basket. That's a sign of respect
- They didn't want points in the paint and they played that we. We have to be ready to shoot and be prepared
- Camby uses his length to his advantage. Once I beat him they have other guys in the paint. Now we have to use them against them
- Just have to take what defense gives me. If I get in the paint and they have five guys on me we should have open shooters
- Basically boils down to hitting shots. Teams have two options. If you want to take the inside play we should be able to hurt them from the outside
- On the defensive end just got to keep in mind that Miller and Bayless want to get to the basket. We've got to protect the paint by any means but he's very crafty getting to the basket. We have to play team defense
- Loss kept him up. Only got two or three hours sleep last night. Need to go home a take a nap :)
- Frustrating not getting to the line. We were being aggressive but calls not going our way but we can't be concerned with that
- They want to clog the paint. That's what they want to do. They're a good defensive team but we have to remain confident that we are the best offensive team in the league
- There's no iso's with me and Camby. There's iso's but no one on one play. When I make that move I have to be a play-maker out there and find out guys and knock down open shots
- We watched film and practiced and implemented what we talked about on film in practice
- Desperate for a win? Can't be 0-2. Have to understand how important every possession is and be ready to play. Regardless of who's not playing we have to take these guys seriously
- Now we know their a team we have to reckon with
- Camby is not the longest guy in the league. Bynum and Gasol. Tyson Chandler. Thabeet the longest. Camby one of them. Camby not toughest guy to go against. They are playing great team defense
- They did a great job disguising where the double team is coming from
- I lost track of how many fouls I had. I didn't think I had that many fouls. I wasn't totally aware how many fouls I have. It won't happen again
- We played well defensively, we just missed some easy shots. Cut down our mistakes. No middle drives. We have to help each other and keep Camby off the boards. If we can create those simply mistakes we'll be fine
- They have to understand it is a seven game series. We have to fight for this win tomorrow and get one in Portland. Can't get too down about the first loss but have to make sure we understand that the next game is very very important
- It's only one game. We were fortunate to get that game. We made some mistakes down the stretch. We know they are going to come out aggressive tomorrow
- Richardson was on Miller a lot. At times, Hill and Barbosa. We did a good job spacing the floor
- We are going to need all of our guys to have an impact. It can't be just Miller and LaMarcus. We need our bench to come through
- We've had to make adjustments all season long. Being without Brandon, we've seen that this year. What's in the past is in the past. We are not only going to need Rudy to play well but our guys off the bench to play well. Last night we did that. We made some timely plays. We made some shots and we got some stops.
- We got some breaks of course and you are going to need that in games like this
Audio: Nate McMillan practice 041910
- Usually home teams take care of home court. We see them playing more like Phoenix on Tuesday and making more of their shots
- I try to rebound by Marcus takes them from me so I end up with three and he gets 17
- We just try to make Amare get tough looks. He missed some shots he normally makes. Hopefully we can do the same thing Tuesday but we know they are going to play better so we have to be ready
- He was getting a little frustrated because we had some many players on him
- Mostly it was Marcus and Juwan on him
- Not sure what adjustments they will make. They didn't make their shots. They are going to make their shots on Tuesday
- Andre's been big for us. He's done it for so long . His confidence gives us energy
- Bayless was big. We told him to be aggressive going to the basket. That's what he came in and did
Audio: Aldridge practice 041910
- I'm not feeling sure. I'm not focused on my shot. My role is to open space for LaMarcus and Andre. I need to improve in my shot
- Not surprised to see Nash guarding (me) because Andre is very dangerous in the post
- Will you attack Nash differently next time? I don't think so
- Dragic is a very good guy. Very good player. Playing like Dragic in Slovenia. I'm happy for him
- I no play together (with him) but any player in Spain is a relationship. He speaks Spanish a little bit
Audio: Rudy Fernandez practice 041910
- I consider myself a point guard. That's people's opinion but I played it my whole life
- I saw my family in the tunnel but they went to bed
- No old Steve Nash jersey. I had a Charles Barkley when I was really young
- Last year we were kind of young and inexperienced. It may have got to us that first game. It was a learning experience last year and we are even better prepared this year
Audio: Bayless practice 041910
- I think they have the idea that I will be a little bit aggressive. Steve Nash can defend but I guess it was their coaches decision to do that
- I try to play the same way (if Richardson on him)
- (First half more distributor. Second half more a scorer.) Being first playoff game wanted to keep everyone involved and pick and choose spots to be aggressive and it came out just right
- Jason and Grant are some smart defenders. Sometimes length bothers you but that's why you have pick and roll
Audio: Andre Miller practice 041910
Marcus Camby (from the training table where he was having his ankle treated)
- We just try and make every shot a contested shot. We expect him to come out more aggressive and more hungry as well as the whole Suns team
- We gave a steady diet of different looks. We just try and make it tough. He's a terrific player and terrific athlete
- We have to do better on the pick and roll. Myself, I have to be more up on the pick and roll situation and our guards have to do better getting over the screens
- You are not going to able to stop that guy consistently
- Ankle feels good. I will be fine tomorrow
- We expect the best out of them tomorrow and the best out of this crowd
- Suns have been playing great ball the last six weeks but we feel we have been too
- Andre was tremendous yesterday and he took that charge on Amare which was a huge play
- Any time they get a three I think they are going in. When Nash had that one on the end I thought it was going in. Nash shooting that shot, I know they were likely their chances with that shot
Audio: Marcus Camby practice 041910
There's more video from today's practice posted on our Facebook page. Go find it by searching for Bright Side of the Sun in the Facebook and then Fan us.