After starting their Circus Trip 2-1, the 40-29 playoff-bound Brooklyn Nets make their way to Phoenix to take on the 23-47 Phoenix Suns, who are down two starters and possibly a third. This is potentially just the bounceback matchup the Nets need after dropping a close one to the nearly-inverse-of-Phoenix 48-22 Los Angeles Clippers, but the second half of a back-to-back on the road isn’t the easiest way to do that.
Joining us to chat about expectations for tonight’s Nets-Suns game is Ryan Weisert, staff writer for ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate Phoenix Suns Blog Valley of the Suns. Justin DeFeo is filling in on asking questions.
And, as always: The BK Game Streak is up. Good luck.
Justin: Recently the Suns have had blowout wins, as well as blowout losses. What can we expect from Phoenix tonight?
Ryan: The Suns’ glaring lack of talent has never been more apparent than it is right now. They’ve lost six of their last seven games by an average of 20 points. Three of those losses were to fellow cellar dwellers Washington (twice) and Minnesota. The Suns have lost the ability to compete on a nightly basis. At this point in the year, it seems like the coaching staff is more concerned with getting minutes for young players like Wesley Johnson than winning games. I think we’ll see more of the same from the Suns tonight. The only factor which might prevent Phoenix from getting blown out is that Brooklyn played in Los Angeles last night. But even though the Nets are on the second night of a back-to-back, I think they’ll still win comfortably.
Justin: Deron Williams has been on a tear since the All-Star break. How do you like his matchup with Goran Dragic?
Ryan: To say D-Will has been on a tear is really an understatement. He’s averaging nearly 24 points a game this month, up from 18 in January and February. Since the All-Star break, he’s taking two more 3’s per game and hitting nearly 45% of them. The Suns are the worst in the league at defending the three, and Dragic is just as much at fault as any of his teammates in that area. Goran will have to pick his poison with Williams. Does play him tight and use his height to bother Deron’s shot? Or does he focus on preventing penetration? Either way, when the ball is in Williams’ hands, the Suns are going to be scrambling.
Justin: The Nets have been dominant against sub .500 teams this season. What will the Suns have to do to get a W tonight?
Ryan: As has been the problem all season, the Suns need too many things to go right in order to get a win. Against the Nets, they’ll first need a double-double from Dragic. Second, they have to keep their turnovers down (under 13.) Third, they’ll need at least 15 points off the bench from either Michael Beasley or Jared Dudley just to keep pace when the starters are off the floor. Fourth and finally, Phoenix’s frontcourt will have to keep Brook Lopez under 20 points while staying out of foul trouble. That seems like a tall order especially with Marcin Gortat out for the year and Jermaine O’Neal day-to-day.