Time: 7:30 pm (Phoenix time)
TV: Fox Sports Arizona, NBA TV
Radio: 98.7 FM
Welcome to this season’s first Holidays with Deadpoolio! I may not get every major holiday on the schedule this season, but I promise you’ll have something to celebrate every time my number is called. (Can’t very well leave that to the Suns.) Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But D-Pooly, isn’t any day with you a holiday?” Well, no. It’s not. That’s precisely why I’m doing this bit in the first place.
Today’s holiday is Sweetest Day, a lesser-known holiday where women are encouraged to give candy to their significant other to
boost profit margins for candy makers show how much they care. Basically, it’s something of a reverse Valentine’s Day. So far, Death hasn’t gotten me anything, but you know, I’m sure she’s busy.
If Sweetest Day doesn’t do it for you, try this site for some alternatives. Be warned, though. There’s at least one in there that will make you say “That has its own day???!!!”
Now onto NBA business. The Phoenix Suns (0-2) aren’t finished with their LA hangover yet. They’re off to do battle with the Los Angeles Clippers (1-0) tonight in their first road game of 2017-18.
The Clippers are entering the 2017-18 season with a new-look backcourt after Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets over the summer and J.J. Redick left for big money with the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent. However, that doesn’t mean this team can’t make some noise this season. Blake Griffin is healthy and in uniform for LA as the unquestioned leader of the team for the first time in his career and looked the part in his season opener, pouring in 29 points and 12 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 19. DeAndre Jordan, the other stalwart on the front line, did what he does best in their opener as well, snaring 24 rebounds to go along with 14 points. Surrounding those main guys, though, are newcomers Danilo Gallinari, Milos Teodosic, and Patrick Beverley, who straight gangsta’d Lonzo Ball in their first meeting. Off the bench, the Clippers bring more backcourt firepower in Lou Williams and Austin Rivers.
Points: Blake Griffin (29.0)
Rebounds: DeAndre Jordan (24.0)
Assists: Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams (6.0)
After a season opener to forget against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Suns fell 132-130 to the Los Angeles Lakers in Phoenix yesterday. It was a more respectable showing in the box score, but it came against a team that trailed by 30 points in the 4th quarter of its own season opener and was coming in off the second game of a back-to-back. Judging whether progress was made is not easy. It’s like looking at the world through a funhouse mirror with this team.
Phoenix put six players in double figures scoring against the Lakers, paced by Eric Bledsoe’s 28 points, but the defense was non-existent from virtually everyone who set foot on the floor for Phoenix. The Lakers shot 51.1 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3 a game after the Blazers were allowed to shoot 48.9 percent and 58.3 percent respectively. It’s only been two games, but the Suns are once again bringing up the NBA’s rear on defense, ranking 27th in opponent field goal percentage, 30th in opponent 3-point percentage, and 29th in opponent scoring.
Points: Eric Bledsoe (21.5)
Rebounds: Devin Booker (8.0)
Assists: Devin Booker (5.0)
Jared Dudley (Suns): toe surgery (OUT)
Brandon Knight (Suns): torn left ACL (OUT)
Davon Reed (Suns): torn left meniscus (OUT)
Alan Williams (Suns): torn right meniscus (OUT)
The Clippers swept the season series from the Suns for just the second time ever last season and remain plenty dangerous this season. Beyond Griffin and Jordan, Beverley gives the Clippers a gritty defender to hassle the other team’s point guard, and Teodosic, who was widely considered the best European player not in the NBA until this season, is as experienced a rookie as you’ll find this side of Arvydas Sabonis. Coming in after playing last night, the Suns will need to muster the energy necessary to keep this hungry Clippers team from savaging them. If they do that, this game will hinge on matchups. Can either Bledsoe or Booker expose the defensive weak links in LA’s backcourt, or will Griffin and Jordan maul a Suns team that has chosen to employ a small lineup?
T.J. Warren/Josh Jackson vs. Blake Griffin
We’ll see if coach Earl Watson blinks here, but he has started T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson at the forward spots in the first two games of the season. How either of those players matches up with Griffin defensively is anyone’s guess, but this really feels like a one-sided mismatch. If Watson doesn’t go to Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender quickly, it could get ugly.
Deadpoolio’s Neat-o Stat of the Game Preview (brought to you by basketball-reference.com)
The Suns have only lost the first three games of a new season four times in their history (1976-77, 1985-86, 1996-97 and 2016-17).