Posted on: December 15, 2008 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2008 5:23 pm

Suns V. Knicks: D'Antoni's Revenge?

Phoenix Suns logoFresh off the trade for Jason Richardson and a victory over the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns are set to face off against former coach Mike D'Antoni and the New York Knicks Monday night.

In what is becoming a war of words and/or a "he said/he said" battle, D'Antoni is quoted as saying that Steve Kerr is responsible or him leaving the Suns.  Suns owner Robert Sarver on the other hand, is backing his GM and saying that PHX wanted D'Antoni to stay.  Sarver is of course, doing what you would expect, but there is still doubt as to which side is telling the truth .

Regardless, all of the talk and drama certainly makes tonight's match up in Phoenix a lot more interesting.  The Suns are hoping to have Shaq back in uniform after a 2-game absence (grandma passed away).  The game will be more interesting just for the fact that the Suns will have all their players back..... Shaq, Richardson, Amare and Nash (Barnes, Barbosa and Hill as well).

The Knicks have a winning record, much to the surprise of many who predicted that their new offensive schemes wouldn't work out.  Their trade several weeks ago for Al Harrington is paying off so far, but he is a disgruntled player (over time) so it will be interesting to see just how long the Knicks can keep up their winning ways.

Game Prediction: Suns 110, Knicks 104

Posted on: December 10, 2008 2:35 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2008 5:21 pm

Suns Smash Bucks @ Phoenix, Lakers Are Next?

Phoenix Suns logoIn the fine words of Will Farrell, the Suns can say "we're going streaking!" and get away with it.....and this time, it's not a 4-game losing streak. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxX_hL-EJ2Y

On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns trounced the Milwaukee Bucks in PHX for their 2nd win in a row and 21st in a row against the Bucks in AZ.  The 21st in a row vs. the Bucks ties the current active streak in the NBA for domination over an opponent (tied w/ the Spurs no less).

Shaq was ultra dominant in the paint against the (soft) Bucks and the entire starting squad seemed to jell pretty well in the victory, while the Bucks continue to struggle.  Porter kept Nash's minutes down and the rest of the team performed when it needed to, including a blazing 74 point first half.  The game appeared much like the D'Antoni era, but perhaps the Suns played a bit better defense - although I wouldn't call allowing 115 points good defense.  Needless to say, the Suns get the win and head to Laker-land tonight for a match-up w/ the Lakers at the Staples Center.  Shaq will not participate due to a death in the family (grandma), so Diaw and Lopez will need to step up vs. Bynum and Gasol.

Posted on: November 28, 2008 2:51 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2008 5:20 pm

Suns Vs Heat: The Matrix Returns

Phoenix Suns logoThe Phoenix Suns have continued to beat up on the teams they are supposed to win against, but have struggled a bit in regards to dominating those teams.  A recent victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder required a lucky miss by the Thunder and a failure (by them) to foul Steve Nash or Raja Bell w/ 9 seconds left in the game. 

Following the win over Oklahoma City, the Suns went to Minnesota on the 2nd of back-to-back road games, to face the Timberwolves, who they've struggled against the past few years.  Once again, Al Jefferson dominated Amare Stoudemire (mostly) and Shaquille O'Neal.  Fortunately for the Suns, Nash was back to his pre-2008 self and helped keep the team afloat enroute to the win.

Tonight, the Suns get ready to face the Miami Heat, a struggling franchise that is now home to a former Suns player & fan favorite - Shawn Marion.  Shawn spent his entire NBA career in PHX before being shipped to Miami in the Shaq trade.  While Marion was hustling and wowing the fans in PHX, he was disgruntled as the 3rd option for the run 'n gun Suns under Mike D'Antoni.  Now in Miami, Marion is roughly doing the same thing behind Dwyane Wade and rookie Michael Beasley.  He is a free agent after this year, so he'll likely be joining his 3rd team in less than 2 yrs during the offseason or before if the Heat can setup a sign & trade deal w/ another team.

Phoenix is currently 11-5 on the season, enough for a B+ rating from this sports blogger.  They haven't won every game they should've, but they have experienced some challenging times already this season w/ Barbosa's Mom passing away, Barnes suspension and Nash's adjustment to the "Terry Porter way".  Considering all of this, they aren't doing too bad.  They still need to improve, however, so that when the Lakers, Celtics and Hornets of the league come around they don't get blown out.

Posted on: November 8, 2008 12:28 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2008 12:36 pm

Up And Down Start For Suns, Team Grade Through 6

Phoenix Suns logoThe Suns don't necessarily look like a different team to start the 08-09 season, but they have displayed some new game plans already. Led by head coach Terry Porter, Phoenix is certainly a lot more deliberate, both on offense and defense.  It looks like they practice defense vs. the quick run-thru's that D'Antoni did when he was here.  Guys are rotating on defense and staying on the ball-handler better than they have in the past.  Tony Parker burned them on occassion, as did Brandon Roy, but they were able to contain the teams' effectively.

This team has been up (solid 4-1start then a 17 pt loss to ex assistant Vinny Del Negro and The Chicago Bulls).

Turnovers are still a problem, which is unexpected considering the team's age and experience level.  Players tend to struggle in new systems, however, so I would hope that the turnovers slowly reduce throughout the season. Sure, they will have lapses and bad games, but they need to get under 20 per game to compete effectively.

Several players that D'Antoni hand-picked for the team are struggling w/ their new roles.  Leandro Barbosa, for instance, still thinks he's supposed to run and score as fast as possible.  Several times, this has led to trouble and turnovers (charges, missed shots, etc.).  Dan Bickley and other local radio guys are already suggesting that Barbosa be traded (to the Knicks, nonetheless), which is most definitely just a knee-jerk reaction to a couple bad plays.  Give Leandro some time to adjust and he should be fine.  Let's not forget that he missed training camp and the pre-season due to his Mom's illness in Brazil.  He's really not played w/ the team or the coaches for very long, so he doesn't know any better.  I think its also going to be a problem, that his buddy "Dan D'Antoni" is no longer w/ the team.

Amare Stoudemire looks good, even w/ the the awesome goggles he's wearing after suffering a torn iris in the pre-season.  He is easily the Suns best player at this point and has helped in the 4 victories - scoring in the paint against the Spurs and Pacers and cleaning the boards against the Blazers, and Nets.

Raja Bell seems to be the only player complaining about his role right now, which is a shame, because he's come from defensive-minded teams in the past.  His complaints/statements recently that "I'm going to shoot when I'm open" stink of selfishness (ala Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, etc.).  Let's hope the statements were just out of frustration after the Hornets loss and then he's going to continue being the team's best defender and one of our top 3-point shooters.

Steve Nash looks ok, although it looks at times like he's handling the ball too much.  His shot is still there, as is his tendency to push the ball on the break - something Suns fans are no doubt loving.

Shaq looks terrific to start the season - scoring in the paint, rebounding and generally helping on defense.  Worth $20+ million?? Probably not, but at the same time, quality centers are hard to come by and O'Neal can still play.  He looks pretty good running up & down the court.

Playing time and bench management appear to be a constant strategy for Porter - he's playing the starters less and using the bench more.  When the starters come out, however, the 2nd team has failed to protect the lead so Terry has been quick to get 1-2 starters back in the game.  In the game against the Trail Blazers, Amare was the one who Porter left in - he's the youngest, so there shouldn't be any harm in playing extra minutes.  The time management is also helpful on the back-to-back games, when the team will need the extra energy in the 2nd game. Lou Amundson is playing to much, Porter needs to give those minutes to Alando Tucker when he comes back...Something he wasn't doing when Tucker was healthy.

Overall rating so far.... B- (Could've been a B+, but last night's game brought them down a bit)

Posted on: October 29, 2008 4:13 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2008 8:43 pm

Phoenix Suns 2008 - 2009 Season Preview

Phoenix Suns 08-09 Season Preview


PG - Steve Nash
SG - Raja Bell
SF - Grant Hill (Matt Barnes WILL end up being the starter)
PF - Amare Stoudemire
C - Shaquille  O'Neal
RE - Leandro Barbosa
RE - Hill or Barnes
RE - Boris Diaw
RE - Goran Dragic*
RE - Alando Tucker
RE - Robin Lopez*
RE - Sean Singletary*


                                 Phoenix Suns logo  Phoenix Suns logoPhoenix Suns logo

The Phoenix Suns have done a lot of great things over the course of the past four years; changing the entire thought of game speed, the use of multi-position players on the floor and the lack of a "true" center in game play are all on the Suns' resume. On the other hand, with each passing season, they have failed to win a championship or even appear in a Finals matchup, for all of their talent. Whether it was the idiocy of acquiring and then not playing point guards to lower Steve Nash's minutes or really inconvenient injuries and suspensions to key players like Amar'e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, or simple whimpering and whining of All-Star glue guys like Shawn Marion, Phoenix has not lived up, but with age playing heavily in the equation, they have to make the most of their time.

The three "seniors" of the team in Shaquille "The Big Cactus" O'Neal, Grant Hill and Nash are going to be needed for their collective ability to be healthy and produce in a long season. Shaq must fully commit to his conditioning, not that he's a fat man, as commonly and stupidly as it's written and said. It's really that a man with as much muscle, height and girth needs to be able to function properly from start to finish. If he were a smaller man, like Charles Barkley, who famously played his way into shape during regular seasons, his frequency of injury wouldn't be a factor, but Shaq is not that man. His guile and willingness to guard the basket and compliment S.T.A.T. (Stoudemire) will be his primary objective.

Hill needs to simply come off of the bench and be the reserve point guard that he was meant to be. He has always been a ballhandler first and everything else second, even during his high-scoring years in Detroit. The craziness in playing Leandro Barbosa, a natural two-guard, as a point guard is one reason that the Suns haven't advanced. Hill presents size and skill matchups that really create problems for team on both ends of the floor, not unlike what Scottie Pippen would do playing as the Chicago Bulls' de facto point guard. Keeping Hill on the bench will keep him fresh, which is a bonus for the Suns.

All Nash really has to do is keeping playing his game, but he needs to be more vocal in keeping his minutes low. Though wiry strong, No. 13 has a history of wearing down late in the season, because his teams are just that good to be playing in April and May. He has to rein himself in, if head coach Terry Porter doesn't, and look for his spots, not unlike Michael Jordan did in the last three years with the Bulls (many fourth quarters had him sitting on the bench with iced knees). Nashy need to take this approach and if need be, tutor any of the young guys (like rookie Goran Dragic) that would be filling out his minutes at the point guard spot.

For the rest of the team, only a brief summary is necessary:

Barbosa just needs to keep shooting;

Matt Barnes, the new guy from the Golden State Warriors, will do wonderful in Hill's place in the starting lineup at the small forward, and he'll also be great playing anything from point guard to power forward;

Raja Bell will do much better now having more competent swingmen as teammates to back him up, and the lowering of his minutes to keep him fresh wouldn't be a bad idea, either;

Diaw  must stay in shape and improve his perimeter shooting, while the Suns' coaching staff must also remember that he, too, is a natural 6'9" point guard at their disposal;

Robin Lopez, the former Stanford twin brother of Brook (for the New Jersey Nets) may be one of the X-factors in bringing this team to its full potential as a talented and legitimate center (and energetic backup to Shaq and S.T.A.T.).

Amare Stoudemire just needs to be Amare, because with a future in the Hall of Fame as a possibility, his expanded shooting range, ferocious dunks, speed, intensity and reported 2% body fat, the Suns will at least be NBA Finals contenders annually...

Anything Alando Tucker can bring in hustle, defense and/or shooting will all be positives.

For Phoenix, the time is now for the real winning to begin.

Or the desert (Gulp),  could soon find itself starving in thirst for of a championship.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com