Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 8:30 ET TNT
Whenever a series is 2-0, the series all of a sudden become a five game series, not a seven game series. But with just one win, that all can suddenly put the Suns back into a seven game series mode. My outlook on Game 3 is one that should look very promising in the eyes of Suns fans, but I warn you to read with caution. Some fans may disagree with this comparison.
The Suns-Lakers series reminds me a lot of the Bucks-Hawks series in Round 1. In Game 1, both the Suns and the Bucks got blown out on the road and the series looked like the Hawks/Lakers were going to have an easy task moving forward. In Game 2, both the Suns and the Bucks lost again, but had their opportunities to take the lead down the stretch and had much improved overall play. So both road teams down 0-2 to the series back to their respected homes for Games 3 and 4. The majority of NBA analysts envisioned the Bucks winning one home game, much like some of the analysts are predicting now for this Suns-Lakers series.
Going in Game 3 in Phoenix I see the Suns doing exactly what the Bucks did on their home court and here’s why. The Lakers have been able to get exceptional offensive contributions from the likes of Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Ron Artest, and I’ll even (maybe unfairly) throw Lamar Odom in there. With the Lakers on the road inside the U.S. Airways Center, I just don’t see each of these four being able to contribute as much as they have thus far into the series. Being at home is one thing, but on the road the situation and task at hand is completely different.
Look for Phil Jackson to use Andrew Bynum more effectively in Game 3, allowing Bynum to slow down the Lakers offense. Against the Suns, it’s okay to play a little up-tempo style when you’re at home but once you enter Planet Orange in Phoenix your best bet is to slow down the tempo and control Phoenix’s opportunities to push the ball. This may not be the same D’Antoni fastbreak team, but those run and gun possessions really fuel the Suns momentum at home behind their fans.
For the Suns, it’s up to both Jason Richardson and Amare Stoudemire to deliver. Amare’s taken much criticism for his performances so far, so I’d expect him to come out aggressive from jump. So aggressive that if he can avoid foul trouble early on, I wouldn’t rule him out for dropping 17+ first half points. Off the bench, the Suns can’t expect Jared Dudley to have another nearly perfect shooting performance and everyone will surely be watching the play of Channing Frye. After a pep talk from his wife on the way home from L.A. and all the publicity Frye’s been receiving on his current slump, tonight he must step up to the challenge. This is the toughest adversity he’s faced since being a top rookie with the New York Knicks. And after declining his upcoming player option, it’s about time he starts proving exactly why he deserves more money than what the player option had him receiving salary-wise. Same type deal relates to the Amare Stoudemire. It’s not even about whether Amare wants to remain a Phoenix Sun, it’s about showing the rest of the league’s general managers that you cannot only help their team get to the playoffs but can excel in big time games. For the Phoenix Suns, it’s their time in shine in the Valley of the Sun. It’s a now or never Game 3 at home tonight. Suns come through in big victory, restore Suns fans hope.
Suns- 121 Lakers- 112
Planet Orange Should Be Rocking Inside U.S. Airways Tonight