NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 7:
Phoenix Suns (3-3) @ Utah Jazz (2-4)
The Suns and Jazz both fought hard down the stretch to secure that final Western Conference playoff spot last year. It came down to our last meeting of the year, our second last game of the regular season. And, well, we won; and moved on. Both of our squads look a lot different this year.
They drafted Kendall Marshall, picked up Luis Scola as an amnesty claim, traded for Wesley Johnson, and signed Michael Beasley, Shannon Brown, Solomon Jones, Jermaine O'Neal, and P.J. Tucker. They said goodbye to Aaron Brooks, Josh Childress, Grant Hill, Ronnie Price, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick, Josh Chilldress, and this Steve Nash dude. They cleaned house and their moves make ours look cosmetic (and here we were thinking that we made big changes!) -- it's going to be a crazy game as they play our style of ball now. Dump it inside, crash the glass, and kick it out to short, limited guards, who love to shoot threes.
The Jazz and Suns played three times last season, with Phoenix winning the series 2-1.
- Game 1 -- Mar 14th: UTA 111 @ PHX 120
- Game 2 -- Apr 4th: PHX 107 @ UTA 105
- Game 3 -- Apr 24th: PHX 88 @ UTA 100
The last game was the key game, and kind of made up for our inability to defend the pick and roll in that (almost) crucial Game 2.
Both teams played last night. The Suns played at home, in Phoenix, and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-105; while the Jazz were on the road, and dropped a game to the Denver Nuggets 84-104. It was not pretty for us. But a number of our guys got some chance to rest. For the Suns Marcin Gortat played 36:47, while Goran Dragic played 34:26. The Suns played only 9 dudes, and everyone else played between 22-26 minutes. Nearly opposite to that, Tyrone Corbin should not have to worry about guys who are tired. The dude who played the most minutes for us last game was Randy Foye, with 28:59. (Yes, he took one shot per minute) (Okay, that's not fair. He paced himself)
So if one of these teams is more well rested it may not be "the team that touched down in SLC first", which is what the Suns did. The Jazz guys got to sleep in their own beds, and it's pretty clear that none of them should be tired for tonight.
There are a number of guys missing from both teams -- but I'll go into this into more detail in the injury update. But for now, we're without Raja Bell, Earl Watson, and Mo Williams. We are, how do you say, even more top heavy now at the big spots and even more anemic on ball handlers. On the opposite side of the spectrum are the Suns, who will be without bigman Channing Frye this entire season. Jermaine O'Neal also missed friday's game, but I don't know if he's available or not. The Suns also were without Kendall Marshall -- but I'll keep an eye on the guard.
Looking at the records these are two evenly matched teams, but I don't really believe that. Phoenix has more wins than us, but look at who they won against: the Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, and Cleveland Cavaliers. It's not like they've had to play the Los Angeles Lakers (a game we won, by the way), or the San Antonio Spurs on their way to a 3-3 record. They were demolished by the Miami Heat, but by the same token, they were also demolished by the Orlando Magic.
The Suns score a lot, 99.0 ppg (#8 in PPG), but give up a lot more 105.0 ppg (#29th in Opponents PPG). There's nothing like playing a team with a -6.0 point differential to set things straight. What else do we know about them? They take a lot of threes and free throws. They are #1 in blocks (somehow!), but surprisingly strong on the glass. This isn't the same Suns team from the end of last season. But they are still a bad team.
We've played like a bad team though. So . . . this is still going to be a game I stress out about.
Word from the Badguys:
Uh . . .
I . . . I don't know many Suns fans . . .
It's going to come down to second chance points. The Jazz are #5 in offensive rebounds, and the Suns are #2. And so far this season here's the list of players on both teams who have at least 10 offensive rebounds so far: Paul Millsap (22), Marcin Gortat (22), Al Jefferson (16), Derrick Favors (16), Luis Scola (15), Michael Beasley (14), Markieff Morris (10), P.J. Tucker (10). Not on that list is Enes Kanter -- but you know what he does on the glass.
For the season the Jazz are shooting 43.1 fg%, the Suns at 43.2 fg%. So yeah. Offensive rebounds tonight. Check that out.
As an aside:
The Jazz Media Guide fails to mention Jeff Hornacek 's connection to the Phoenix Suns; but instead lists the ones for Tyrone Corbin, Mike Sanders, and that Marvin Williams and Kendall Marshall went to the same college. D-E-R-P. (Page 2 here.)
Jazz win. Why? Well, we can't lose EVERY game, right? More reasonably, I think these are two teams that will match up well this year; and I think our guys will be motivated. They have pride. They don't like to get their butts kicked.