What: Phoenix Suns (4-5) at San Antonio Spurs (5-4)
When: Sunday November 5th at 5:00 pm MST
Where: AT&T Center San Antonio, TX
Watch/Listen: Fox Sports AZ and AZ Sports Radio 98.7 FM
Own (verb) - to totally defeat, gain control over, or dominate in a competition.
That pretty much describes the recent history of this series.
Since the Suns took two of three from the Spurs back in 2009-10 (when they were still a real basketball team) the Spurs have punished the Suns to the tune of a 21-5 record in regular season meetings.
What was once a rivalry, one the Spurs had the upper hand in, has become a punchline.
Hopefully the precocious Suns can reverse this recent trend against a understaffed Spurs team that has started the season without all everything superstar Kawhi Leornard (he’s good) and crafty veteran point guard Tony Parker.
After a 4-0 start the Spurs (4-5) stumbled in four straight contests before getting back in the win column against the Charlotte Hornets 108-101.
LaMarcus Aldridge has led the way for the Spurs with 22.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
While the Spurs are down a perennial MVP candidate and future ring of honor member (I know they have rings in San Antonio, but not really sure about honor) it’s not like the Suns are playing with a full deck.
In case you forgot, before the season they lost Brandon Knight (acl), Davon Reed (meniscus) and Alan Williams (meniscus). Then three games in they lost Earl Watson (bad coach) and Eric Bledsoe (bad attitude).
In what has been some possible combination of addition by subtraction and/or dead coach bounce the Suns went from a historically abysmal 0-3 start to become a much more competitive (and actually fun to watch) 4-2 under new coach Jay Triano.
Which makes me wonder what the hell Watson was ever doing coaching the team to start the season (or ever) in the first place...
The Suns (4-5) have revealed a concerning trait though... digging huge holes in each of their past two games.
Against the Washington Wizards two games ago the Suns clawed back from a 22 point second quarter deficit behind the heroics of T.J. Warren, who had a career high 40 points and 10 rebounds.
Warren is a game time call today (at last notice) after suffering a nasty spill against the New York Knicks on Friday night.
The Suns fell behind by 21 early in the second quarter against the Knicks and never mounted a serious comeback attempt.
Falling behind by 20+ early just isn’t a strategy that is going to pay dividends... and despite the one valiant comeback feels a little Watson-esque.
Devin Booker lit the Knicks up for 34 in the loss, but the Suns tandem of point guards (Mike James and Tyler Ulis) shot just 2-20 from the field and Dragan Bender managed a game high -29 in 26 minutes.
Booker has been a beast after a shaky start, averaging 30.3 points per game over his last four while shooting 52% from the field and 48% from three point range.
This kind of play pretty much has me agreeing with Bright Side’s own Dave King that Booker has All-Star games in his near future.
I actually think his biggest stumbling block, for his chances even as soon as this season, is probably the overall performance of the team. It is tough for young players on bad teams to crack into the league’s pantheon.
While Booker, Warren... and even Alex Len have played well in the early going, it is painfully obvious that neither James nor Ulis is a starting quality point guard at this stage, Dragan Bender has been one of the very worst offensive players in the entire league and 20 year old rookie Josh Jackson doesn’t appear ready to make a positive impact.
Based on the Suns recent play might it be possible that flipping Bledsoe, who now has all the time in the world to sit at the hair salon, for a real NBA point guard could actually make the Suns a long term competitor in the Western Conference this season?
We might never know... because Bledsoe has now been on paid vacation for two weeks and GM Ryan McDonough appears to be holding out for a godfather deal after doing his best job of publicly trashing Bledsoe’s trade value after Eric’s ill-advised tweet.
But consider this... after today’s contest against the Spurs the Suns actually come home to play nine of their next ten. Doesn’t this possibly set them up to have a not terrible record and entire 20 games into the season?
For now it’s time to focus on the villainous Spurs.
Can Triano get the Suns back to their winning ways?
Will they erase the memory of a poor performance against the Knicks and get off to a strong start today?
Or is it time for a young team to come crashing back down to earth?
Find out for yourself.
I mean, you know you want to watch... Suns basketball is actually kind of fun... for now.