Steve Nash

2010-11 NBA Preview: Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 last season)

The reigning champs would love for a three-peat.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Derek Fisher

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

Small Forward: Ron Artest

Power Forward: Pau Gasol

Center: Andrew Bynum

Key Reserves:

Guard: Steve Blake

Guard-Forward: Matt Barnes

Forward: Lamar Odom

I believe this Laker team only got better by adding Steve Blake and Matt Barnes.  Blake will prove to be a much better backup to Derek Fisher than Jordan Farmar.  Blake is a savvy veteran with a solid shooting stroke and will run this team very well.  He will also help the Lakers dismal three point percentage that they had last season.  Kobe Bryant will be Kobe Bryant, regardless if he’s hurt or healthy.  The man is the closest to Jordan that I have seen.  If Ron Artest can play like he did in the playoffs for the entire season it’s game over.  The Lakers are still the best team, even after the moves the Heat made, and they will prove it with their third title in a row.

Phoenix Suns (54-28 last season)

When will the "fountain of youth" run out of water.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Steve Nash

Shooting Guard: Jason Richardson

Small Forward: Grant Hill

Power Forward: Hedo Turkoglu

Center: Robin Lopez

Key Reserves:

Guard: Goran Dragic

Guard-Forward: Josh Childress

Forward: Jared Dudley

The Suns have improved in some areas and in others they are going to be drastically lost.  Losing Amar’e Stoudemire is going to be tough to get over, and Robin Lopez must step up big time if Phoenix wants to prove they can still play in the West.  Rebounding will be an important stat to keep in mind, because even with Stoudemire they weren’t that great.  Channing Frye, Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick all need to bring down more rebounds than they are used to doing.  I still have faith that this new look team can make the playoffs, but will they make it past the first round?  For more on the Suns check out this article: Planet Orange Shining Bright

Los Angeles Clippers (29-53 last season)

Healthy and ready to show why he was the No. 1 pick.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Baron Davis

Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon

Small Forward: Ryan Gomes

Power Forward: Blake Griffin

Center: Chris Kaman

Key Reserves:

Guard: Eric Bledsoe

Forward: Rasual Butler

Forward: Al-Farouq Aminu

The Clippers are going to be a much improved squad this year, and it really can be thanks to a healthy Blake Griffin.  He is an immediate impact player and will be a significant boost to the chemistry of this team.  The starting lineup for the Clippers seems solid, but the reserves will be a little shaky.  None of them have really proven to be NBA dependable and there are also a lot of rookies on the roster (Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Willie Warren).  Ultimately, the Clippers are going to go as Baron Davis goes.  He will have the ball in his hands a majority of the time trying to set up other players, and if he’s off then the rest of the team will be out of sync.  I see the Clippers missing the playoffs, but not by a whole lot.

Sacramento Kings (25-57 last season)

The catalyst of this youthful team.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Tyreke Evans

Shooting Guard: Beno Udrih

Small Forward: Omri Casspi

Power Forward: Carl Landry

Center: Samuel Dalembert

Key Reserves:

Guard-Forward: Francisco Garcia

Forward: Donte Greene

Forward-Center: DeMarcus Cousins

A lot is going in the right direction for the Kings: Tyreke Evans is turning into a superstar, they are stacked at the power forward and center position, and the losing ways could be over this season.  This team reminds me of the 76ers though.  They have no shooters.  Tyreke is improving but still isn’t quite there.  Omri Casspi is a streaky shooter and same with Beno Udrih.  Both Donte Greene and Francisco Garcia have a chance of cracking the starting lineup and shooting consistently will be the key.  Also look for DeMarcus Cousins to slowly start taking more and more minutes away from Samuel Dalembert as the season progresses.

Golden State Warriors (26-56 last season)

Out of New York and out of the pressure.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Stephen Curry

Shooting Guard: Monta Ellis

Small Forward: Dorell Wright

Power Forward: David Lee

Center: Andris Biedrins

Key Reserves:

Guard: Charlie Bell

Guard-Forward: Rodney Carney

Forward: Louis Amundson

David Lee must provide for this team.  The Warriors shipped three players away to acquire Lee and they are looking for something in return.  Stephen Curry is proving that he can play in the NBA and he is coming off an impressive rookie season.  His continued development will be the main focal point because who knows how much longer Monta Ellis will be around.  Golden State should have no problem rebounding with Lee and Andris Biedrins and their defense should be much improved by adding Louis Amundson.  With a few bright spots, I still feel this team will finish last in the division.

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2010-11 NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (50-32 last season)

Don't let their age fool you, they still have what it takes.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo

Shooting Guard: Ray Allen

Small Forward: Paul Pierce

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

Center: Jermaine O’Neal

Key Reserves:

Guard: Delonte West

Forward: Glen Davis

Center: Shaquille O’Neal

The Celtics are coming off a great year in which they made it to the finals and lost in Game 7.  They were a surprise to everyone in the playoffs as the No. 4 seed while most people thought the Cavaliers or Magic would make it. The key for the Celtics is to stay healthy.  Five players are 32 years of age or older (Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and both O’Neals) and limiting minutes will have to be in the works for Doc Rivers.  The second unit will also have to be fired up most nights because they are a very important part to the success of the team.  If the Celtics want to make another run at the championship, the entire squad must be healthy and whole in April.

New York Knicks (29-53 last season)

Amar'e is "The Man", but Felton could be the key to the offensive.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Raymond Felton

Shooting Guard: Wilson Chandler

Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari

Power Forward: Amar’e Stoudemire

Center: Timofey Mozgov

Key Reserves:

Guard: Roger Mason Jr.

Guard-Forward: Kelenna Azubuike

Forward: Anthony Randolph

Ok, so no Lebron James for the Knicks, but they did acquire Amar’e Stoudemire who will have to carry this team on his back.  Look for Stoudemire to put up better numbers than he did in Phoenix.  Some people think he won’t play better because Steve Nash is what made him good, but I don’t believe that at all.  Another key addition is spark plug, Raymond Felton.  Felton knows how to win basketball games and will be an improvement from Chris Duhon.  Things are looking up for the Knicks and if Amar’e can stay healthy and his knees don’t give out on him, I believe the Knicks will make the playoffs.

New Jersey Nets (12-70 last season)

Harris and Lopez could be that one, two punch that lead the Nets to victory.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Devin Harris

Shooting Guard: Anthony Morrow

Small Forward: Travis Outlaw

Power Forward: Troy Murphy

Center: Brook Lopez

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jordan Farmar

Guard-Forward: Terrence Williams

Forward: Derrick Favors

Avery Johnson is looking to turn things around for this young New Jersey team.  They aren’t going to blow you away with their offense, so defense must show up for them to win games.  Brook Lopez and Devin Harris are the most important players on the team and having them healthy all season will sway this group into a possible playoff berth.  The Nets will need an incredible season to reach the playoffs but anything can happen.  Give them another couple years, let Derrick Favors get some seasons under his belt and be ready for a powerful Nets team in the future.

Philadelphia 76ers (27-55 last season)

A star in college now has to learn to take a supporting role.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jrue Holiday

Shooting Guard: Andre Igoudala

Small Forward: Thaddeus Young

Power Forward: Elton Brand

Center: Spencer Hawes

Key Reserves:

Guard: Evan Turner

Guard: Louis Williams

Forward: Andres Nocioni

The first thing that comes to mind when I look at this starting five is that there isn’t a solidified shooter.  Andre Igoudala is probably their best shooter and he isn’t very reliable from outside.  Either Jason Kapono or Jodie Meeks will need to earn a spot in the rotation and provide for them what Kyle Korver used to.  This is a fairly young team and the faster Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner develop their offensive games, the better the Sixers will be.  Elton Brand is a team chemistry destroyer, and this is why I do not see the 76ers having a great season.

Toronto Raptors (40-42 last season)

Can Bargnani show the fans of Toronto why they drafted him number one?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jarrett Jack

Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozen

Small Forward: Linas Kleiza

Power Forward: Reggie Evans

Center: Andrea Bargnani

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jose Calderon

Guard: Leandro Barbosa

Forward: Amir Johnson

The Raptors had a terrible offseason losing Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh.  Their whole team is mixed up and they will most likely be one of the worst teams in the league.  The only positive feeling I can say about this team is that things can only go up after the season starts.  One of their young players will certainly need to step forward with a larger role.  I see that player to be Andrea Bargnani.  He was a number one overall pick and has a really good skill set.  Also look for the Raptors to possibly pick up a star closer towards the trade deadline thanks to their Bosh trade exception.  

Top 10 Poster-ers

By: Zach Silvernial (OTC Contributor)

The OuttaTownClowns would like to welcome Zach Silvernail to the blog, we’re happy to announce he’s the newest edition to our growing blog. Zach will primarily focus on contributing to our NCAA Basketball and NBA content on the page. Along with his well-written work, Zach has a great knowledge and high level understanding of the game at both the collegiate and pro levels of play. But don’t take us from us, follow his work on our blog and you’ll see for yourself. Without further ado, I bring you Zach’s debut post on the OTC…Enjoy!

There is nothing more exciting, and often times amusing, than watching a guy get dunked on. With so many incredible athletes now in the NBA, it’s something that seems to happen almost every game. Nothing gets a crowd going, a bench going, and most importantly a player going like taking off full speed, going body to body, and putting his you-know-what in an opponent’s face. If you’re not too familiar with the term “getting postered”, ask Shawn Bradley to describe it to you. I’m almost positive that’s what his role was throughout his stint in the NBA. Or ask guys like Stromile SwiftJames White, or Gerald Green…who only got to the NBA because of their high flying ability. But, before you escape to YouTube, allow me to present the list:

The Kobe Bryant Mini-Fro Days....

10. Kobe Bryant
I know, I know. He’s getting older now, and does a lot less high flying than he did during his mini-fro days, but he is still one of the more explosive and acrobatic players in the league. Don’t think so? Dare you to tell him otherwise.

9. Derrick Rose
Talk about a FREAK athlete. Rose is one of the most, if not the most explosive two-foot jumpers in the NBA. He might not belong in the top 10 based on his quantity of posters, but certainly for his quality and capability. Goran, what were you thinking?

One of the best dunks in All-Star Weekend's history

8. Andre Iguodala
Following in the footsteps of former Wildcat high-flyer Richard Jefferson, “Iggy” comes in at number 8. With deceptively long arms, incredible athleticism, and an underrated array of dunks (as illustrated in his dunk contest appearances)…Andre had to make the list.

7. Russell Westbrook
This guy might be my favorite one on the list. He became known for his ability as a youngster at UCLA, and has continued to humble opponents in the NBA. One of the top five quickest and fastest players in the league, he is beyond dangerous in the open floor.

6. Rudy Gay
Now the ranking becomes a little bit more difficult. It’s hard to put Rudy as low as number 6, but he has about 84 million reasons to make himself feel better. Almost impossible to stop above the rim because of his length, and probably best known for his always fully extended, and picture perfect windmill.

"Mr. Tolliver, will you sign my poster?"

5. Amar’e Stoudemire
Amare is certainly one of the most ferocious and powerful dunkers on the list. He may not always have the most “spectacular” posters, but he seems to have about a million every year. His number of dunks might go down without “Stevie” to thread the needle this year, but he’ll still manage to embarrass a few opponents and their families. Somewhere Anthony Tolliver is tweeting: “SMH”.

4. Dwayne Wade
Alright, now it’s almost impossible. Having to put maybe my favorite player at 4 was not easy, but the top 3 are too good. “DW3” is as relentless as anyone when it comes to taking the ball to the rack, and epitomizes the clique: “attacking the rim with reckless abandon”. Just ask Anderson Varejao.

3. Josh Smith
“J-Smoov” needs no introduction. Only fitting that he would play for the Hawks. Probably the only guy capable of filling out all Top 10 plays on SportsCenter in one night. He’ll pin you at one end and then catch a lob on the other. Always fun to watch.

2. Dwight Howard
Superman comes in at number 2 strictly because it happens so often. Had the list been called Most Likely To Dunk on You…Dwight would probably be number 1. Not only one of the most incredible athletes currently in the NBA, but of all time.

Back When D-Wade Was "A Witness", No Wonder He Wanted To Unite

1. LeBron James
Are you surprised? Possesses every possible attribute of a good poster-er. Size, speed, strength, quickness, jumping ability. You name it, he’s got it. Well, except for a ring.

Well, that concludes my list. But, before I go, just want to give a shout-out to the All Underrated Poster Squad: Will Bynum, Ronnie Price, Von Wafer, Shannon Brown, Dahntay Jones, Chase Budinger, Rodney Carney, Trevor Ariza.

Follow Zach on Twitter: @love4thegame3


Planet Orange Shining Bright With New Acquisitions

By: James Sargent

Last season was quite a success for the Phoenix Suns as they reached the Western Conference Finals when every NBA source  had them making the playoffs as a 6-8 seed and not going further than the first round.  Now, I am here to tell you that the Phoenix Suns can exceed last season and possibly knock off the Lakers.  The loss of Amare Stoudemire, in my opinion, will be quite a hurdle to overcome, but the players that were added will make the Suns a better team.

Amare is gone, like Lebron, but at least he said thank you.

Amare Stoudemire is a great player and I loved watching him mature in his tenure with the Suns, but he had a couple of flaws he brought to the team.

One, he has injury issues that have to always be in the back of your mind.  I understand he came back successfully from micro-fracture knee surgery and major eye surgery, but at any time he could go down due to the effects from these injuries or new ones that could arise.  Major injuries can have lingering effects and pop up at any time when you least except it.  Heck, at any point, Steve Nash’s career could be over with one unlucky back injury.  Injury-ridden players are always something you have to watch out for.

Two, his rebounding is very questionable.  You never know when he is going to show up and grab 12 boards or five boards in a game.  His lack of enthusiasm and hustle are also big reasons to when he decides to play his hardest.   Last season in the playoffs, he averaged 6.6 rebounds.  C’mon, man!  You are a 6’10” power forward and one of the most athletic players in the NBA!  There is no reason you shouldn’t be pulling down nine or less rebounds a game.

Three, and this is similar to the one above, his defense is very poor.  Again, he is athletic enough to be a defensive presence, but he doesn’t always give it his all in every game.  Every once in a while he will have a good defensive game and record a couple blocks, but most of the time he is terrible.  Maybe New York will bring out the best of Amare.

Now we get to move on to the additions that the Suns made.  Several days after LeBron James shocked the basketball world with his decision to join the Miami Heat alongside Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, the Suns made a quiet but interesting move by signing the lanky yet versatile forward Hakim Warrick.  Then, a few days after that, the Suns landed Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu in separate deals.

I believe the last afro the Suns had was young Shawn Marion's.

The only price the Suns pay for these acquisitions is the loss of guard, Leandro Barbosa, who was sent to Toronto for Turkoglu.  I am happy Barbosa is gone.  He was starting to lose his off-the-bench heroics and he took way too many shots.  He had some great seasons for Phoenix, but after the injury he suffered last year, he just did not come back the same.

Josh Childress is a great pickup for the team.  He provides stability in the small forward spot, which is currently occupied by the aging Grant Hill.  Childress, who spent his last two seasons playing overseas for the Olympiacos in Greece, will also help tremendously on defense.  He can lessen the burdens of Jason Richardson in guarding the tough opposing guards in the league such as the likes of Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade.  Childress ultimately will bring to the team what Shawn Marion brought in his days here, just not as frequent.  Childress is a poor man’s Shawn Marion and I am going to stick by that comment until I am proven wrong.

Hedo Turkoglu, on the other hand, is set to face enormous amounts of pressure as he takes over the slot vacated by Amare.  The Turkish sensation, who had a dismal season with the Toronto Raptors, will give the Suns more firepower and provide clutch plays for the team.  He will also lessen the load of Steve Nash because he is a very good ball handler and great court vision.  His only downside is his suspect defense.  He will have to guard the more powerful and stronger power forwards and this could pose problems.

With this being said, I believe the Suns will be a much more talented team.  The starting lineup will include Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu and Robin Lopez.  The bench, or “Second Unit”, will feature Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye.  The Suns could even go as deep as playing Earl Clark or rookie Gani Lawal if they make great improvements.  Anyways, I am very excited for this team next season, and the loss of Amare could turn out just fine.

The verdict: The Suns will exceed expectations once again and make it to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year.  Can the new look Suns test the Lakers in a seven game series?  Next year we will find out.

Scottie Reynolds: Rise Like a Phoenix

By: Ross Geiger

Eighteen and a half points per game, forty percent from long range, his team’s go-to player, his school’s second all-time leading scorer, the face of his school’s basketball program, he is Scottie Reynolds. The 6’2, 190 pound point guard had a spectacular college career at Villanova, now Reynolds continues his spectacular story.

It’s starts as birth born in Huntsville, Alabama where his teenage mother gave him up for adoption. Growing up in a warm household, Reynolds was brought up well, and his upbringing carried over to the basketball court. In the state of Virginia, Reynolds is widely regarded as one of the top scorers in basketball history. As a senior at Herndon High School in Herndon, Virginia, Reynolds averaged 28.4 points per outing, dropped 4.5 assists, and was a thief snagging an 4 steals nightly.

Entering his freshmen season with the Villanova Wildcats, it didn’t take Reynolds to long to adjust and went onto to be named the 2006-2007 Big East Rookie of the Year. As just a sophomore, Reynolds led the Wildcats in scoring totaling 15.9 points per game, helping make the push to a Sweet 16 berth. During his first year as an upperclassman, Reynolds took his team to even greater heights come time for the big dance. In the Elite Eight matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers, Reynolds known for his clutch performances drilled a game-winning bucket with 0.5 seconds remaining, which led ‘Nova to the 2009 Final Four in Detroit. As a senior, Reynolds helped his team to a 25-8 overall record, but unfortunately made an early exit as the #2 seed in the tournament. The disappointing loss to St. Mary’s in the second round not only put his dreams of winning an NCAA Championship to rest, but also held him short of becoming the Villanova’s program all-time leading scorer. Reynolds was just 21 points shy of the feat trailing only former NBA guard Kerry Kittles. But make no mistake, Reynolds received the well-deserved recognition he deserved as a senior being named to the 2010 AP All-American 1st team becoming only the fourth player in school history to do so.

After one heck of a career at Villanova, Reynolds was set on entering the 2010 NBA Draft and that’s where his story becomes even more spectacular. Reynolds, an AP All-American, surprisingly went undrafted on draft night. But please, don’t begin to feel sorry for the talented youngster; if anything this is a blessing in disguise. Though Reynolds made many of his accomplishment look easy during his high school and college days, this next step will be a bit more challenging to overcome. He’s an undersized NBA guard who many scouts question whether he’s got the capabilities to be an NBA floor general.

Reynolds entered NBA Las Vegas Summer League camp with a chip on his shoulder, out to prove the critics wrong as a member of the Phoenix Suns. In just three games (due to injury) Reynolds had some highs and some lows, yet showed enough upside that the Suns immediately offered him a training camp invite. His summer league line: 10.3 ppg on 47% field goals, 44% behind the arc, and was a perfect 100% from the charity stripe, to go along with 4.7 assists per game. In each of his three summer league games, Reynolds built upon each performance and by the his third and final game against the D-League Select team he scored 16 points and added 3 assists in limited minutes.

Best Be Sure He's Keepin' His Head High

A variety of NBA teams have extended training camp invites to Reynolds and he’s yet to make his decision. But I’ll be willing to bet, Reynolds’s story as an undrafted NBA rookie hasn’t quite ended yet in the Valley of the Sun. If and when Reynolds accepts the Suns training camp spot, I expect Reynolds to continue to grow as an NBA professional and will rise like a Phoenix as one of the most underrated NBA rookies next season. He’s in a great situation as member of the Phoenix Suns, not only can he learn from one of the best point guards the game has ever seen in Steve Nash, but his offensive game can flourish in the Suns style of play.

With the departure of Taylor Griffin (waived) this past week, I fully expect to see Scottie Reynolds a Phoenix Sun next season. From what I’ve been hearing the Phoenix Suns are very high on him and at this point I see it nearly a no-brainer that he makes the final roster. He’d most likely spend much of the year traveling back and forth between D-League and call-ups, but with Nash’s aching back always in question, you never know when he may be called upon. But if his time comes and his number is called, Scottie Reynolds will be ready to step up to the challenge that awaits as he has all his life. Making transitions look easy is something Scottie Reynolds has done his entire life, so why shall it stop now?

After all, NBA teams allowing him to go undrafted only fuels his fire. If there is one kid, one story to watch this season it may in fact be Scottie Reynolds. If there is to be another Wesley Matthews type scenario be in store this season, look no further.

LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 6) Predictions

LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 8:30 ET TNT

Gentry & the Suns are praying for a Game 6 victory

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson said it best, “One good shot, leads to another.” After disaster struck the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night, the Suns are down but far from out. Trailing three games to two, the Suns are back at home facing win or go home circumstance. If the Suns they earn a trip back to Los Angeles, if the Lakers win, they’ll be headed to their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance.

There’s no question the Suns are fully capable of not only winning tonight’s game but having a chance to win a decisive Game 7 battle inside the Staples Center, they know that. For Steve Nash and Grant Hill this very well could be their last chance to have a really good shot at making it to the NBA Finals. After all, they’re only two big wins away from doing so.

Heading into Game 6, there are no surprises, both the Suns and the Lakers know what to expect from one another and understand what they’ll need to do to come out on top. So my one and only key to a Game 6 victory for both teams is: Execution.

Whichever team can best executive for the entire 48 minutes wins Game 6. In Game 5, the Suns feel just short of a victory after failing to execute on defensive as Jason Richardson allowed Ron Artest to cross his face and failed to box him out. The Suns along with Jason Richardson learned this valuable lesson, and expect them to bounce back in Game 6.

45+ Points= Lakers win, anything less, expect a loss

Only way I see the Lakers winning Game 6, is if Kobe Bryant goes off on a rampage, meaning 45+ points. As much as I love watching Kobe distribute early on into games, he must find his rhythm early. Gone need to be the games of getting teammates involved early as Kobe may only have 6-8 points after one quarter of play, the Black Mamba needs to fire up early. If he can put the Suns on the heels to start the game, the Suns along with their home crowd will be desperately concerned as the game nears its final minutes.

For the Suns, execution starts and ends with Steve Nash. He was brilliant in Game 5 and with him so close to a chance at the NBA Finals, expect nothing less than another great game today. But Nash must, must, must, score more points than he tallies assists. While that may seem very odd, the Suns need Nash to score the basketball just as much as they need him spoon feeding his teammates.

Behind Nash and another home court “coming out party” for the Suns bench, expect the Suns to come up big with a win in Game 6.

Suns- 121 Lakers- 117 OT

Hopefully Gentry can keep the puking to a minimum tonight

He missed once, don’t allow Kobe Bryant the opportunity to try again tonight!

5/25/10 LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 4) Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 9 ET TNT

Can the Suns get it done in Game 4, behind the "hard-nosed" leader Steve Nash?

Like I said in my Game 4 predictions, I think the Suns are in a very similar position to what the Milwaukee Bucks were in against the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1. Outsized and down 0-2 heading home the Bucks took care of business back in Milwaukee. After winning Game 3 on Sunday night the Suns have the opportunity to do the same tonight, tying up the series as it heads back to the City of Angels.

Can it happen? Of course…Do I think it will happen? Absolutely not….Here’s why:

Amare Stoudemire: I hate to break it to ya Suns fans, but that was the last 40+ point performance Stoudemire will ever have in a Suns uniform. It’s a sad reality and I truly do feel bad trying to frame his impressive Game 3 performance as a bad thing. But there’s no way the Lakers allow that to happen once again tonight.

Grant Hill: Go ahead, make the argument that although Amare might not go off for 40 points again and that Grant Hill will make up for some of that loss in scoring. My response to that would be there’s no way in hell Robin Lopez drops 20 points in Game 4. But regarding Lopez, he’ll have another solid night out on the floor, I’ll go with a near double-double type performance of 12 points to go along with 9 rebounds.

Odom must help lead the charge into Game 4

Lamar Odom: Early foul trouble for Lamar Odom really limited the Lakers chances in Game 3, especially when considering Andrew Bynum only played 7 minutes. Odom will bounce back from his very vague 10 point, 6 rebound performance tonight in Game 4. Outside of Kobe Bryant singe handedly taking over the ball game, Odom holds the keys to big Lakers victory.

But There’s Hope for Phoenix!

Suns Bench: If the Suns were to have lost this game, their bench production would’ve been torn apart by the media and deservingly so. It was terrible in Game 3 combing for a mere 15 points and 11 rebounds on 3 of 21 shooting. Yikes! When a bench performs that bad as a bench as a whole, there’s no way to go but up!

3-Point Shooting: The Suns only went connected on 5 of their 20 three point field goal attempts in Game 3. That as we all know is very unlike the Suns and you can fully expect to see the team shoot a higher three point shooting percentage in Game 4.

Planet Orange: The Suns are at home, so that in itself is very important. Behind their home crowd, the Suns must get off to a hot start, keep the energy level at the max. Kobe Bryant began feeling it early in Game 3 and was the key to containing the energy level in Game 3. It seems as though every time finish made a strong push for momentum, Kobe Bryant responded with a tough shot of his own or found an open teammate for a wide-open shot attempt.

When the final buzzer sounds, I’m taking the Lakers over the Suns which will allow the Lakers to wrap up the series in Los Angeles in Game 5.

Lakers- 116 Suns- 112

Things Could Potentially Heat Up Again in Game 4

5/23/10 LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns (Game 3) Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns- 8:30 ET TNT

It's now or never for the Phoenix Suns

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.

The Suns can't allow the "Bynumite" to explode

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

5/19/10 Phoenix Suns at LA Lakers (Game 2) Predictions

Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers- 9 ET TNT

Frye must contribute a few treys with or without giving Hill a piggyback

While I believe Game 1 was a true indicator of who will take the series, the Suns won’t go down without giving themselves a worthwhile fight back at home for games 3 and 4. Rest assured, the Suns won’t lose in such an embarrassing fashion again this series and with that being said Game 2 looks promising.

“Live or Die by the Three”- For year’s it’s been the Phoenix Suns’ motto, in Game 1 they died by it and we’re already dead before the fourth quarter started. Outside of Jason Richardson, the Suns were atrocious from downtown as Nash, Frye, Dudley, Dragic, and Barbosa shot an ugly 2-16 from long range. That folks is something that won’t happen in Game 2, expect at three of the five players I just mentioned to at the very least hit two threes tonight (my guess would be Nash/Frye/Dudley).

In the series, continue to watch how Phil Jackson decides to use Andrew Bynum, it seems to that Coach Jackson allows the Lakers the freedom to run up and down with the Suns at home. But then on the road inside the U.S. Airways Center expect Bynum to be more of a factor as the Lakers choose to play a slower paced game.

Nearly Exact Replicas

It’s almost scary to me how similar stat lines Gasol and Stoudemire have when facing each other. While the two may have their athletic differences, when it comes down to overall skill level and talents at the power forward position, they’re nearly identical. Both are very good from the foul line, very good around 15 feet, and both have a great array of post moves on the block.

As for Kobe Bryant, Suns fans will be relieved of any 40 point surges. Grant Hill and Jared Dudley have a game under their belt and from here on out, they’ll only to continue to adapt their defensive strategies towards him. Don’t get me wrong though, while there’s no stopping Kobe completely, don’t expect the Black Mamba to go off for anymore than 32 points at most.

If the Suns decide to test out their zone defense on the Lakers in Game 2, you’re guaranteed to see more of Andrew Bynum. I’m not so certain, testing the zone out is the right idea to be quite frank because I think it only attacks the Suns weaknesses down low. The more opportunities you give the Lakers to open up their high-low game with Gasol and Bynum the more foul trouble you may see from Amare Stoudemire. And without Stoudemire on the offensive end, you can kiss goodbye any good looks from the three-point arc with no real threats inside.

Game 2 shall be a good one from start to finish with the Phoenix Suns coming out on top shipping the series back to Phoenix tied 1-1.

Suns- 114 Lakers- 107

I must say being back here in Phoenix while this Suns/Lakers series is going on has been great to follow all the stories and all the hype. I’ve been told by a few Suns fans that this is the Suns fans “pump up” YouTube video before they tune into the game, ALL I CAN SAY IS ENJOY!

5/17/10 Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers (Game 1)

Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers- 9 ET TNT

Why can't the Suns get any love?

On top of all the “you’re wrong” comments sent my way via Suns fans, I’ve recently been hit with a surge of Suns fans wondering why I and the majority of the sports media world don’t give the Suns any love. While I can stand here and think of a variety of different why that is, I think it’s much more significant to inform all Suns fans not to worry: Embrace it! The Phoenix Suns are at their best when there’s no expectations! The moment they’re expected to do something is when they fail….

Past Examples:

2004-2005 Suns Starters: Nash/Johnson/Richardson/Marion/Stoudemire= best Suns team since the 2000's

When were expected to dominate the NBA Playoffs as they did the 2004-2005 regular season= fail

When Shawn Marion is expected to be happy and remain a Suns player for his entire career= fail

When Shaquille O’Neal was expected to be the missing link to a championship caliber team= fail

Present Examples:

When Steve Nash is expected to play a little defense= fail

When Jared Dudley and the Suns bench are expected to provide a huge boost= fail

When the Suns have a early 15 to 20 point lead and expect to maintain it= fail

Suns may still regret not doing this

Future Examples in Question:

When Jared Dudley & Grant Hill are expected to slow down Kobe: _______ ?

When Amare Stoudemire is expected to resign in Phoenix this offseason: _______?

When Goran Dragic is expected to be the Suns everyday starting point guard: _______?

Goran Dragic might possibly be the best example that comes to mind when talking about the Suns and expectations. While there’s no doubt that Goran Dragic’s Game 3 performance in San Antonio was outstanding to say the very least, it was THAT outstanding because you didn’t expect it. The moment Suns fans come to expect Goran Dragic to do something (like me) you’ll find yourselves disappointed in the final product. Same applies to the Suns organization. Don’t have any expectations heading into the Western Conference Finals Suns fans, I’m looking out in the best interest of you all. Continue to enjoy the ride without worrying about what Bill Plaschke, Phil Jackson, and hell even what Ross Geiger says. The moment the sports world outside of Phoenix begins to believe in this Suns team is when it collapses.

The Lakers' Big Three

Now with all that being said, I got good news for the Phoenix Suns, I like the majority of the sports world have the Lakers in Game 1. It’s going to be interesting to watch the Suns try to stop the Lakers strong inside presence of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The most important key of all is not allowing Amare Stoudemire to fall into early foul trouble. If at any point in this series, Amare sees foul trouble early into ball games, the Suns stand no chance unless they’re just hitting everything from the perimeter. Balanced scoring: inside and out, is something both teams need to solidify their success. The Suns must not count heavily on knocking down the perimeter threes against the Lakers, rather must attack the basket and try to draw some fouls down low on Bynum. If the Suns can get Bynum into some foul trouble, the game is pretty much an even battle.

How the Lakers decide upon approaching who defends Steve Nash is also something to watch for. We all know Derek Fisher will clearly start from tipoff, but I see Phil Jackson calling upon Shannon Brown to play that Jerryd Bayless/George Hill-type role against Nash. Jordan Farmar is another guy to watch out for. Any matchup that puts Steve Nash on his heels on defense is something I see Phil Jackson trying his best to exploit. Especially now after Steve Nash retaliated back by saying that Gregg Popovich is the best head coach in the NBA, I see Coach Jackson taking to Nash every and often.

A Lakers win will result in keeping Bynum out of foul trouble, solid play from Gasol at least matches the stat line of Stoudemire, and the no show productivity from the Phoenix Suns bench. Lakers take Game 1 at home.

Lakers- 107 Suns- 99

I Don’t See Channing Frye or Jared Dudley Being Able to Deliver Clutch Knockdowns Like This One, That Goes Down in My Book as the My Favorite Suns Shot of All-Time over Rex Chapman’s Prayer: