Phoenix Suns Status Check:
Road Record: 16-21
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: Lost 114-97 to San Antonio
PPG: 105.0 (4th)
Opponents PPG: 105.7 (27th)
Offensive Rating: 109.4 (9th)
Defensive Rating: 110.1 (22nd)
Pace: 94.4 (7th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .522 (5th)
Turnover Percentage: .133 (13th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .715 (28th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .236 (28th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .216 (24th)
Opp. eFG%: .512 (24th)
Opp. TO%: .132 (15th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .212 (6th)
Leading scorer: Steve Nash (15.3)
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.
Suns Injury Report:
Vince Carter: sore left knee (questionable)
Steve Nash: flu-like symptoms (questionable)
Mickael Pietrus: sprained right knee/strained quad (out indefinitely)
Gani Lawal: right knee surgery (out for the season)
The Suns are coming off a loss to the Spurs in which they were officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Steve Nash was missing during that fate-sealing loss. Nash not only leads the team (and league) with 11.4 assists per game, but he also leads the team in scoring (15.3). Aaron Brooks, Nash’s back-up, averaged 13 points and 6 assists in the two games Nash missed.
The Suns need Nash to run, they feed off his passing. Nash has an assist percentage of 52.9 percent this season. In 19 games with the Suns, Brooks has a 36.1 assist percentage. Nash’s offense rating is 118, while Brooks’ O-rating is 109 (they both have the same defensive rating: 114).
Obviously Nash is better than Brooks; no one needs stats to realize that. But he is one of the most important players relative to his team’s success in the league, and has been for some time.
Another guy like that is Derrick Rose. The Bulls go as Rose goes, and it’s a good thing he has been going really well most of the season.
Rose showed how much his team needs him the last time these two guards and their teams met. Chicago needed to come back from a 23-point deficit and two overtime periods to put Phoenix away. Rose scored 35 points (14-33) and added 12 rebounds and seven assists. Nash scored 14 points and added 16 assists.
Elsewhere on the court, Keith Bogans logged only eleven minutes in the last matchup. He averages 17.7 minutes per game this season, and that is without two extra overtimes. In those eleven minutes, he managed to score zero points (0-4 from the field) and record a plus/minus of -14. Impressive stats, but in a very, very bad way.
As usual the bench was huge. This game it was Kyle Korver who stepped up, scoring 24 points and recording 5 rebounds and three assists. He boasted a game best plus/minus of +22.
Since this game the Bulls have grown and the Suns have traded away integral parts of their team. Most notably, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson have moved on (to Orlando).
The Suns could finish under .500 for the first time since 2003-2004. They have lost five of their last six games and have games remaining against Dallas, New Orleans and San Antonio (Phoenix also plays Minnesota twice).
The Bulls are looking to finish with the best record in the East and possibly the league. They play five games this week, three against playoff teams (Celtics, Magic, Knicks) and one against the worst team in the league (Cleveland).
After missing the playoffs, have the Suns check-out mentally? Tonight will be their first chance to either “play for pride” or mail it in. I would expect the Suns to have less energy coming out, knowing they can’t make the playoffs and the Bulls need to jump on them early.
According to ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell, both Carlos Boozer (illness) and Joakim Noah (injured right ankle) participated in this morning’s shoot around and are expected to play in tonight’s game.
While Noah missed the last three games, Boozer has played great; averaging 21.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in three Chicago wins. There has been a lot of talk that Boozer and Noah don’t coexist well on the offensive end; but they need to mesh, or at least find a way to improve, before the playoffs start.
If one or both of these guys can’t play big minutes, someone will step up…someone always steps up.
About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.