Spurs vs. Suns Give and Go Preview
After a 7-2 Rodeo Road Trip, the San Antonio Spurs are back at the friendly confines of the AT&T Center tonight. Though the venue may feel somewhat unfamiliar, the opponent is anything but as the Spurs take on the Phoenix Suns for the second time in as many games.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: So my first question. We’ve seen the Spurs and Suns play a couple of times already, most recently on Sunday night. Why should I expect anything different than what we’ve seen the first two times?
Kevin Zimmerman, Valley of the Suns: It’d be naive for me to think that the Suns will have a chance the way things are going. As you probably saw on Sunday, Phoenix truly is in rebuilding mode having ran out 12 players . At this point, Lindsey Hunter is running his rotations loosely and solely based on who is playing with effort and smarts. Plus, Phoenix has the worst offensive rating in the league since Hunter took over , and they face a pretty solid Spurs team in that regard. If there’s any reason to believe the Suns will win, it would be that they continue to play hard — Sunday was far and away a better effort compared to their previous game against Boston — and somehow catch San Antonio on a cold shooting night. I’m not sure the Spurs have those, though.
AM: I’ve seen them. And they’re ugly.
Seeing as we’re a couple games into the season series, what’s something about the Suns that Spurs fans probably don’t know or realize?
KZ: Well, I suppose that a very Spurs-like acquisition for Phoenix this offseason was not Michael Beasley. P.J. Tucker was signed as the 12th man and has quickly cemented himself in the starting lineup as a physical and versatile defensive stopper. Especially in Sunday’s game, his aggressiveness and back-and-forth with Manu was fun to watch from an objective basketball perspective. I bring Tucker up because he’s overlooked because of how crappy the Suns as a whole have been doing. Funny thing, though, is the man who brought him in was general manager Lance Blanks, who was once with the Spurs front office. Let’s just say that those in the business and fans in Phoenix aren’t huge fans of Blanks because of who he’s brought in — Tucker is probably the exception. Was there any opinion out in San Antonio of Blanks, and what was it?
AM: Not really sure. Blanks is one of the lesser-known products of the Spurs front office family and he left several years before I started covering the team. Like everyone else, however, I’m sure he learned plenty about how he’d like to run his own shop.
On Sunday night, it seemed like the Spurs were in for a battle after the first quarter when Phoenix led 21-19. What happened in that second quarter from a Phoenix perspective that made it all go so horribly wrong?
KZ: Obviously, the substitutions didn’t work. Kendall Marshall, Wes Johnson and Beasley all played three minutes and only Marshall (hardly) played in the second half, I presume because they looked awful as San Antonio went on that 14-0 run. That was pretty much the breaking point. But the Spurs also did a good job against the starters. I can’t say I know exactly what they did, but they made some adjustments in the pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic. If they take that away, there’s not much else Phoenix can do to score. The Suns afterward said that they were searched for second and third options in their offensive sets, to no avail.
AM: Yeah Gortat was really effective when the Suns got him the ball, but he didn’t seem to get it enough. Especially in the second half.
KZ: How’d you like Nando De Colo’s play as a starter, by the way? Patty Mills looked pretty good as well.
AM: Nando and Patty are both solid. It’s weird, if the Spurs had just one, they would probably easily be the backup point guard. But because they’re both on the roster, Pop hasn’t quite figured out who the preferred backup point guard is.
KZ: Yeah, some of the other media fellows brought up how the Suns were just making de Colo give it up off pick-and-rolls. I sort of like Mills, though. Tough kid, especially on defense. He was really getting into Goran Dragic’s chest.
AM: Mills is a very high-energy guy. I thought he was key to the second quarter run there. And I think Nando is naturally more of a 2-guard than a point, but he’s such a good passer that he can play both positions.
I’ve heard some rumblings of Shannon Brown getting buried in an effort to, um, how do I put this delicately, get the young guys some experience *cough*tank*cough*. Any truth to that?
KZ: Oh yeah. As erratic and as much of an offensive rhythm killer Brown might be, he’s still worth 10 points per game and has been completely stuck to the bench. Twelve players saw action on Sunday, and Brown was the only active player not included). The Suns won’t admit they’re tanking (does anyone?) but they definitely aren’t running out the lineups that will get them a win here or there. Anyway, Brown gave a pretty pointed interview to the local paper this week. I can’t blame him. We’re trying to find out why he drew the bench straw and not one of the other vets like Dudley. I guess his partially-guaranteed deal next year would be the only reason I can see.
AM: Okay the last thing before we finish up. I need a random prediction from you, something that has nothing to do with the final score.
KZ: Hmmm, let me think for a second.
Sort of is related to the final score, but I have a feeling we’ll have a Hamed Haddadi sighting for the Suns… even if he’s supposedly out of shape.