Game 2 of New Jersey’s four-game road trip lands them in Phoenix against the 4-6 Suns tonight at 9 P.M., where today’s afternoon weather hit a sunny 70 degrees. In Newark, New Jersey, it is currently around 30 degrees and snowing. What does this have to do with tonight’s game? Absolutely nothing.
Update: Steve Nash and Grant Hill are inactive tonight for the Suns, rendering our first 3-on-3 question obsolete. Ronnie Price and Shannon Brown will start in their place. Damion James is out for New Jersey, and not expected to play on this road trip.
Joining Sandy Dover and myself to have a legitimate discussion about the game tonight is The General of ValleyOfTheSuns, Michael Schwartz.
1. Nash. D-Will. Who wins the point guard battle?
- Sandy Dover:
Deron’s been in a funk of sorts, and he’s getting frustrated with the offense (and who can really blame him?). Steve has been playing hurt with a bruised rib, but he’s still on the mark and playing as efficiently as ever. I have a feeling Steve will get the better of Deron, only because the Suns are a more unified group. Devin Kharpertian:Tonight? Steve Nash. A wider array of weapons, a stronger connection to his team’s offense, and a deadly outside shot against the worst perimeter defense in the NBA add up to a Nash advantage. Deron’s certainly more talented, and the Nets gave Nash fits last year, but I’m a pessimist about their chances of stopping his overall attack tonight. Michael Schwartz, ValleyOfTheSuns:Nash has been spectacular in January after a rough start, compiling typical Nash numbers of 15.3 points and 11.7 assists per game this month. But Williams’ physicality has always given Nash trouble over the years and with Suns stopper Grant Hill ailing I expect an even bigger game from D-Will.
2. Bold prediction for tonight’s game?
- Sandy Dover: I have a feeling that MarShon Brooks is going to have a career night. He’s been playing hard and doing a dutiful job in his minutes, and the Nets need to do something different. My guess? MarShon is going for 25. Avery Johnson, “release the MarShon!”
- Devin Kharpertian: The Suns refer back to their seven-seconds-or-less days and run the pace up to at least 95 possessions in regulation, helping Channing Frye score at least double his 8.3 average against a frontline that has issues defending pick-and-pop players. The Suns will confound New Jersey’s defense early and often, and Nash will find Frye open for more than a few good looks.
- Michael Schwartz: Michael Redd will hit four three-pointers in his second game back from knee surgery. Sure, this is a back-to-back that can’t be easy on his knees, but Redd wasn’t bashful last night, drilling two three-pointers in his first minute of action and three total. He will find the space for four more against New Jersey’s league-worst three-point shooting defense.
3. And the winner is…
- Sandy Dover: The victory will go to the Suns. After a surprising loss to the Cavaliers, Phoenix will be looking to tighten up its defense and execute accordingly, if nothing more than to save face. The Nets are currently not in a great place with the offense or defense and the tension is boiling. Not necessarily the makings of a winner tonight.
- Devin Kharpertian: The way the Nets have played recently, it’s hard to pick them over anyone. They don’t have the inside presence to hang with Marcin Gortat, and outside of Deron Williams they’re thin in the backcourt as well. It’ll take a strong showing offensively from the guards and a surprising effort defensively from the bigs for the Nets to take this one.
- Michael Schwartz: Phoenix. With a vicious five-game road trip starting Sunday in San Antonio and after last night’s loss to the Cavs, the Suns know they can’t afford to give away another home game to a lowly Eastern team. The Suns will treat this as a must-win and take it by double digits.