The first time the Phoenix Suns (14-9) played the San Antonio Spurs (19-5) they lost the game, but won some of the important battles. At that point in the season the team was coming off of an impressive and unexpected 3-1 start, lost to the Thunder, and had a test against the Spurs.
This time around things will be a little different as Tony Parker will miss the game due to injury leaving the offensive keys on the desk of Cory Joseph, Manu Ginobili, and Marco Belinelli for the game.
Right now the Suns are catching the Spurs after one nights rest, but in the third game of their four game Western Conference road trip. Four games in five nights is tough no matter the record of a team or their pedigree around the league. Not having Parker in uniform plays into the Suns favor as well with the way that their back-court has been playing as of late.
In this game the Suns have an opportunity to continue the winning against the short-handed and tired Spurs.
The good thing about being in the Spurs position is that they do not need to take games like this type of game very serious. In their position they can afford to rest their players, strategically plan their season, and not risk a chance at a championship with a game in early December.
On the other hand the Suns have to take every game serious. They are an up-and-coming team that still has a lot to prove whether it is against the bottom of the league teams or against playoff contenders.
There is a statement to be made here by the Suns.
(Recent) History Lesson
0-1 Against the Spurs 99-96
Heading into the fourth quarter the first time the teams played the game was tied and then The Parker Show began. He scored 15 points on 7-7 shooting to close out the Suns in a "moral victory" for the team. The Suns proved they could hang with a contender and played them punch-for-punch before Parker delivered the knockout.
Head-to-Head (past four seasons including Playoffs)
Suns: 99.8 PPG (2 wins)
Spurs: 106.3 PPG (10 wins)
It has been one-sided.
PG - Eric Bledsoe v. Cory Joseph
SG - Goran Dragic v. Danny Green
SF - P.J. Tucker v. Kawhi Leonard
PF - Channing Frye v. Tim Duncan
C - Miles Plumlee v. Tiago Splitter
Potential Suns Inactives: Alex Len (Left Ankle, Game-to-Game) and Emeka Okafor (Neck, Out Indefinitely)
Potential Spurs Inactives: Tony Parker (Right Shin, Out)
Frye vs. Duncan
Some match-ups are just unique and difficult for teams and players. Frye creates that for traditional power forwards and centers with his ability to shoot the ball, stretching the defense out. Against the Spurs he has not been that type of weapon with the Suns shooting 42.8% from three and scoring 8.2 points per game. However, over his past 15 games Frye is shooting 48.1% from three (2.5 makes a game) and seems to have his confidence and legs under him at this point in the season.
Since Frye arrived in Phoenix his shooting has not disrupted the effectiveness of Duncan on the block. He is still putting up 19.7 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game, both of which are within one of his career averages. Can Frye alter Duncan's game tonight? That could be the ultimate question for the Suns in whether they pick up the win or not.
Interesting Stat: 8.3 PPG 3.2 APG
Those are Joseph's numbers as a starter in 11 games with the Spurs in his short career. He is a very limited reserve that normally does not see very much action on the court in general, but when he starts he shoots the ball well (48.5% FG 50% 3PT%) and the team is 7-4 with a winning margin of +1 overall. That means in the four losses, the Spurs were ran out of the gym by margins of 40, 30, 24, and 10 in those games.
Meaningless Stat: 108.2
That is the Spurs offensive rating on the season, good for sixth in the NBA, but without Parker running the offense that is about as meaningful as my three-point shooting percentage in high school. Meaningless.