The Phoenix Suns kicked off their 2015/16 season in humiliating fashion, getting squashed at home in front of a sellout crowd by a depleted Dallas Mavericks team. Tyson Chandler found himself in early foul trouble against his twice-former team, and like his teammates, never got comfortable.
The Mavericks used their intimate knowledge of the big man to effectively gameplan against his roll game, and the attempts by the Suns' guards to lob the ball inside weren't even close. The only bucket scored by Chandler came on a putback, as he logged only 17 minutes of playing time.
Not surprisingly, the Suns were never in striking distance after halftime.
The back-to-back games versus the Portland Trail Blazers made it obvious that this Suns team is markedly different with Chandler on the floor, as he posted a combined total of 20 points and 24 rebounds. Perhaps most importantly, he also showed great chemistry with the Suns' backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, who tormented the Blazers by scoring a combined 100 points on the nose during the home-and-home.
Chandler is renowned for his screen-setting ability, and spent a ton of time on the perimeter, looking to free up some space for the guard attack. So far, he looks to be the complementary big man that the Suns have sorely lacked since Channing Frye left town.
He also provided some of his trademark nastiness, getting into a rather comical tussle with Blazers center Mason Plumlee.
Despite the promising display of cohesion with the Suns' biggest premier summer acquisition, there are also some glaring holes on this team. Outside shooting still looks to be a concern, as does the absence of a third scorer. Markieff Morris will need to shoulder a bigger load for this team, as he has come out of the gate looking rusty on offense.
T.J. Warren and Mirza Teletovic have also struggled to produce off the bench, but it's way too early to be overtly concerned. If Chandler can throw his weight around and the guards can play with confidence, there is a foundation to build upon.
Wednesday, October 28 vs Dallas: L, 95-111
Friday, October 30 vs Portland: W, 110-92
Saturday, October 31 @ Portland: W, 101-90
The season started off great for the Suns. They managed a sell-out at home, they were playing an injured Dallas Mavericks team that honestly doesn't look that great when they're healthy, and seeing that old-school sunburst back at center court in front of a buzzing crowd was just aces.
Then the game started.
The Suns hacked their way through a foul-ridden first quarter that sapped their rhythm and energy, and a torrid run by the Mavs during the midsection of the game put this one away early. Knight and Bledsoe were outscored in this one by Deron Williams and Raymond Felton -- that's really all you need to know.
The Suns played much better basketball against the Trail Blazers, getting their guard attack rolling and tightening up the defense. Portland showed themselves to be ill-equipped to defend against penetration, as the Suns racked up 42 freethrow attempts during the front end of the home-and-home before hitting the road for their first road game of the season.
In Portland, the Blazers seemed more prepared for the Suns' attack, but ultimately it was to no avail as Knight and Bledsoe went off for a combined 60 points. The Suns again prevailed on the heels of a 16-5 run late in the fourth quarter.
Stat Line of the Week
Eric Bledsoe went as a superstar player for Halloween, and it's always immensely enjoyable to get such a game from him. He ran circles around the Blazers and netted an obscene stat line of 33 points (21 FGA), 6 assists, 4 steals, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. This is the kind of game that leaves little doubt who is the best player in a Phoenix Suns uniform.
On the horizon
Monday, November 2 @ Los Angeles Clippers
Wednesday, November 4 vs. Sacramento
Friday, November 6 vs Detroit
Sunday, November 8 @ Oklahoma City
The Suns will have their mettle tested this week. The four teams on this week's scheduled went a combined 11-3 against Phoenix last season, and are 10-2 through the first week. Sacramento stayed competitive in two early losses against the Clippers and the Pistons are looking like the early candidate for surprise team of the year.
And hey, guess who's coming to dinner on Friday?
That's right, Marcus Morris will make his first trip to the desert after repeatedly criticizing and mocking the organization following his salary-dump trade to Detroit. So far he looks like a candidate for Most Improved Player, averaging 19.3 PPG on a healthy .559 TS% and chipping in 7.7 RPG. All would easily be career highs for Marcus, but of course it's way too early to get too carried away.
The real question for Suns fans is how Markieff will respond to the hostile treatment of his brother by the fans? Will he once again give into his emotions and sound off after the game? This wouldn't be a concern with any normal set of brothers, but the Morris twins have proven to be anything but normal. Don't be surprised if the treatment of Marcus has an adverse effect on Markieff, who already has started the season rather poorly.
Make a donation for Bright Side Night 2015!
We are up to 474 tickets as of Monday morning, but there's only week left to make your donation (or, if applicable, your second one). We'd love to get 500-600+ plus by the end of the week.
We are sending hundreds of kids to their first Suns game on November 14, 2015, against the Denver Nuggets. Help make this a reality by making your own donation to be a part of the greatest thing Bright Side has ever done!
Here's How It Works To Donate
- You click this link to donate: Suns.com/brightsideofthesun
- Follow the links, and use the code 'SUNS' when prompted
- Make sure you select 'Suns Blog Bright Side of the Sun $16 donation' when prompted, then follow the prompts, pick the number of tickets you're buying, and make the payment
- Provide the payment method, and voila! you're done
- You will get a confirmation email directly from the Suns
*If you donated 10 tickets, you will get a separate call from a Suns rep to discuss your free pair of lower bowl tickets. You can use them yourself, give them to anyone you want, or donate them as well. Your call!