Who: Phoenix Suns vs Charlotte Bobcats
What: NBA Basketball – Suns Home Game
When: 9:00 PM ET
Where: Live at U.S. Airways Arena
|Phoenix||10-15||101 (17)||105.2 (26)||95.0 (9)|
|Charlotte||7-17||98.8 (25)||107.3 (29)||95.4 (8)|
Phoenix: Channing Frye (OUT)
Charlotte: Tyrus Thomas (OUT)
|PG||Goran Dragic||Kemba Walker|
|SG||Shannon Brown||Ramon Sessions|
|SF||Michael Beasley||Michael Kidd-Gilchrist|
|PF||Luis Scola||Byron Mullens|
|C||Marcin Gortat||Brendan Haywood|
|6th Man||Shannon Brown||Jeffery Taylor|
The Bobcats played three solid quarters last night in the Staples Center, but fell short as the 4th proved, once again, to be too much for Charlotte. After last night’s heartbreaking 101-100 defeat to the Lakers, will the Cats have anything left in the tank to challenge Phoenix and take what is seemingly a very winnable game on this 4-game road trip? Michael Schwartz (@ValleyoftheSuns), from the TrueHoop blog ‘Valley of the Suns‘ joins us to preview the matchup.
1- STATS: A lot of similarities with these two teams. Both bottom feeders in defensive efficiency, both are below average offensive efficiency squads and both are top-10 in the PACE category. What statistical category will swing the game in one’s teams direction tonight?
Spencer: Charlotte and Phoenix both value the basketball as well- Bobcats 5th in turnover ratio (13.1); Suns 4th (12.9). Knowing this and combining it with the fact that both of these teams like to play at an up-tempo pace, I believe the squad that gets more take away’s tonight will turn them into transition baskets and eventually a sizable lead.
Michael Schwartz (ValleyoftheSuns.com): Defense. The Suns have been a bad defensive team all year, but they’ve turned that around during their three-game winning streak by yielding just 93.4 points per 100 possessions in these victories. For fans of conventional stats, the Suns have held these past three opponents under 90 points, the first time a Suns team has done that in six years, and none have shot better than 42 percent. Phoenix has used a new starting lineup for these three games with a different rotation that involves less Michael Beasley (a defensive sieve this season), and I feel they have at least one more stellar defensive outing in them against a tired Bobcats team before regressing back to the mean.
Brett: Tough to pick a stat to use as the determine factor, as these teams are close to each other in the standings for most of them – turnover rate, rebound rate, true shooting %, and down the line. So, I’ll pick the one that bit the Bobcats the last time around: 3 point shooting. The Bobcats need to limit the open looks from deep for the Suns and that will give them a chance to end their streak.
2- OPINION: The Bobcats are in clear rebuilding mode. Phoenix, on the other hand, seems to be somewhere in the middle. The Suns are flirting with the dreaded pure mediocrity that NBA teams can’t sustain with any kind of success. Which franchise will be in a better place 3 years from now?
Spencer: I have to go with the Bobcats here. It’s a tough one, but Phoenix seems like a franchise that is not really sure where they want to go right now. The signing of Michael Beasley and Goran Dragic this past summer are both questionable. Beasley will eat up about $12 million in cap room over the next two seasons, while Dragic is on the books for $30 million over the next four years. The Beasley inking is a head scratcher just because it’s Michael Beasley and I certainly think they could’ve gotten more bang for their buck. Dragic, on the other hand, was interesting because Phoenix took PG Kendall Marshall in the first round of the draft in June- just seems odd to throw that much money at a PG after you drafted one in the first round. All this being said, the Suns are a much better team than the Bobcats currently. I just tend to side with the franchise that is gaining very young, cheap assets and is beginning to show signs of collecting draft picks for the future (Ex: POR 1st round pick from Gerald Wallace trade, DET 1st round pick from Maggette trade, Mullens acquired for a 2nd round pick).
Michael: The Suns are flirting with the treadmill of mediocrity that has become a staple of the franchise the last few seasons, but as much as they have resisted it I think this is the year they plummet toward the bottom. However, the Suns are as anti-tank as any team in the NBA, so it would be no surprise if they fail to land the kind of impact talent they so badly need in the draft. Phoenix has always been a desirable market for free agents and this franchise owns the fourth-best winning percentage in NBA history despite never winning a championship because they rarely string too many consecutive losing seasons together, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to go with the homer pick and Phoenix. That being said, it seems like the Bobcats have a better plan right now by bottoming out and building toward the draft, and if the Suns continue to insist on being mediocre then Charlotte will be in a better spot in three years.
Brett: I’ll take the Bobcats, though I’m admittedly biased. With MKG, Kemba, and Bismack to form a young core for the team, I’m optimistic about the future in CLT, and it’s based on those high draft picks (and there’s another on the way in the upcoming draft). While Gortat and Dragic are solid, it feels like their Morris twin was a miss, and there aren’t a lot of interesting young players.
3- PICK IT: Charlotte has lost 12 straight coming off of last night’s heartbreaking loss to the Lakers in the Staples Center and the Suns are currently on a 3-game winning streak that includes a W against one of the West’ best, Memphis. Who gets the nod tonight and why?
Spencer: Suns. I think Charlotte is emotionally and physically drained from last night’s loss. Not only was it a very close defeat, but the Bobcats blew an 18-point second half lead to fall. Not to mention the fact that the Suns are on a 3-game winning streak that include wins over two top-8 western conference teams (Memphis & Utah).
Michael: I’m going with Phoenix. The Suns have been a pretty good home team all season, and they’re finally starting to play solid basketball for the first time all season. This starting lineup seems on the verge of figuring things out, and the Bobcats must be exhausted and demoralized after last night’s come-from-ahead loss to the Lakers. Suns by 15.
Brett: I’ll take the Bobcats, just because of the encouraging loss last night. This team is ready to end their losing streak and the Suns are no great shakes themselves. If Shannon Brown hadn’t gone en fuego last time, the Bobcats would have an additional win to their credit. I say he doesn’t make 6 threes tonight and the Cats win.