Okay…let’s talk Bulls-Suns. Note that many of the following stats were provided by Peter Newmann of ESPN Statistics and Information Research.
Fact: After hitting a total of 20 three-pointers during his first four seasons in the NBA, Phoenix Suns backup center Channing Frye has nailed 98 threes this season. That’s the second second-most in the league behind Danilo Gallinari of the New York Knicks (109). Meanwhile, the Bulls have connected on 150 three-pointers as a team.
Fact: Among all players who have accumulated at least 200 offensive plays this season, Jared Dudley ranks as the 11th-best individual offensive player in the NBA (1.08 points per play). Yes, Jared Dudley. Just call it “The Steve Nash Effect.”
Fact: Amar’e Stoudemire is averaging 21.0 PPG, and 11.8 of those points are scored in the paint. That’s the fifth-best in-the-paint average in the league, behind LeBron James (12.1), Andrew Bogut (12.2), Monta Ellis (12.4) and Zach Randolph (12.5). Not surprisingly, Stoudemire appears to be one of the players on Chicago’s offseason wish list.
Fact: Joakim Noah’s jump shot was created by evil forces from an alternate universe. Okay, I can’t actually prove that, but it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?
Fact: Steve Nash has 26 double-doubles this season. That’s the fifth-most in the league, behind Zach Randolph (27), Carlos Boozer (28), Dwight Howard (30) and Chris Bosh (31). Not surprisingly, Bosh and Boozer both appear to be on the Bulls’ offseason wish list. For what it’s worth, Noah leads the Bulls with 21 double-doubles.
I present these facts both because they’re interesting and they illustrate the primary difference between the Bulls and Suns. One team is all defense and little offense, the other is all offense and little defense. In fact, Phoenix gives up 1.10 points per possession, which is the second-worst mark in the league, barely better than the 1.11 surrendered by the Toronto Raptors. Of course, the Bulls score only 1.00 point per possession, which is the league’s third-worst PPP, ahead of only the Minnesota Timberwolves (0.99) and New Jersey Nets (0.96).
It’s a classic case of a Resistable Force meeting a Movable Object. Kind of like Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. Or maybe not.
I’d say the outcome of this game was a toss up except that the Bulls are playing in Phoenix on the third game of a seven-game Western Conference road trip. Note that each of Chicago’s last four losses have come on the road, where they are 4-15 this season. The Suns, on the other hand, are at 16-4 at home and 15-3 overall against sub-.500 teams.
If the Bulls are going to have any shot at winning this game, they can’t pull a repeat of what happened against the Warriors. Simply put, they cannot try to outscore the Suns. Phoenix will give up jump shots. If the Bulls are lured into chucking up jumper after jumper, this is a blowout waiting to happen. Chicago needs to, if at all possible, slow the pace, attack the basket, and even try to have Joakim Noah and Luol Deng pound the ball inside. Did I mention they need to stop the Suns in transition, run out at their three-point shooters and try to protect the rim from their relentless drives?
Should be easy…