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PREVIEW: Phoenix Suns visit Miami Suns

First game.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns at Miami Heat

When: 5:30PM AZ time (7:30 Eastern)

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL


Radio: AZ Sports 98.7 FM

The Phoenix Suns (15-45) visit the Miami Heat (34-26) tonight in a mini reunion with 4 ex-Suns players: Gerald Green, Goran Dragic, Amare Stoudemire and the newly acquired Joe Johnson. In their last meeting Suns loss to the Heat 95 to 103 despite going on a run in the 4th and taking a 4 point lead with 5 minutes on the clock. The Heat offence has been gelling quite nicely lately and countering in their defensive prowess it would be surprising if they let it get as far this time.

The Heat

The first thing you should know about the Miami Heat: they've had the injury bug going around all season. So far they've lost Tyler Johnson to a shoulder injury and Beno Udrih to an ankle sprain for the season. Other players have been in and out as well - in fact up until the All-Star break the only starter who played every game was Chris Bosh. Unfortunately CB has been out since then with another blood clot scare and speculations have him missing the rest of the season as well.

But oddly enough, this hasn't hindered the Heat as much as you'd think. They've gone 5-2 since losing their top scorer, with the biggest difference maker being pace. Before the break they were 29th in pace since then they're 11th. Spoelstra has wanted to play faster all season and now with Goran Dragic and Loul Deng in the forefront of their offence the Heat are finally running. Boosting the tempo has brought back The Dragon. He's been averaging 18.4 points 4.9 rebounds with 7.4 assists and a steal per game. Deng, Whiteside (who has been a monster 20pts, 15.7reb, 4bl in last 6 games) and Winslow have all benefited from the change and Wade has been Wade with a little more running.

Since Joe Johnson arrived the coach has been using the same 9 player rotation two games straight, leaving out Green who has been in a bad shooting slump going 2/19 in his previous four games. The Heat beat the Knicks on Sunday and then set an NBA season high for points shooting 67.5 percent against the Bulls on Tuesday.

Currently the Heat are 4th in the East with their next 4 games coming against under .500 teams. Their chemistry has been improving all season and if they don't encounter another huge setback they should be good for a playoff run.

Injuries: Chris Bosh, Tyler Johnson, Gerald Green's shot

The Suns

The Suns too have had their share of injuries, though they weren't as well equipped to withstand the loss of their top scorer. Way back in October I sorta predicted the season was in the hands of Eric Bledsoe and though the Suns had some bad stretches just before he went down I like to think this whole season would have been at the least - more watchable with him in the game. At least the youngsters are keeping fans involved. Alex Len has been averaging a double-double in his last 5 games, Archie has had some sparks and I've just added Devin Booker to my fantasy lineup just because. Also thank Bosnia for Mirza Teletovic offencing almost 20 pts per game in his last 6.

After their home win against Memphis on Saturday the Suns returned to their road losing trend on Tuesday in Charlotte. They trailed the Hornets by as much as 43 point at one point in the end losing by 34. The coach seems to think the Suns biggest problem is immaturity which won't help in this matchup against veterans. Their best chance is probably to try and tire them out.

Injuries: Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, T.J. Warren

Key matchup

Going with Hassan Whiteside vs Alex Len here. They've both been double-doubling the past few weeks and will definitely be aggressively all in considering their past. Last season they got into a fight which got both of them ejected and they were being pretty rough in their last match-up too.


Heat win 120-100.

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