Archive for the ‘Suns’ Category

What’s up with Parker?

December 27, 2008

So on Christmas day, I sat on my ass and watched the NBA for about 10 hours. Hands down, the best game was the Suns/Spurs game. Today I watched some videos of Mason hitting the game winner and I noticed something…

Check out Tony at the 0:12 mark….he’s not even excited. He just walks off to the lockerroom…Man, even Duncan plugged back in his emotion chip and did a fist pump.

Speaking of the Suns…

May 1, 2008

Simmons’ year-by-year account chronicling the decline of The Suns into plodding first-round losers is exactly the kind of column I would love to write if it were my job to write a few thousand words on sports every three or four days. Great stuff.

One thing to add: It would take a separate column to address, but the personalities of Suns’ players and officials played a huge role in how this decline.

Simmons equates the Spurs’ success in part to roster consistency. Since 2003, they’ve built around Duncan, Ginobili, Parker, which the Suns could have done with Nash, Stoudemire, Marion, and Joe Johnson. Too bad only Nash has the same win-first mentality that defines the Spurs. Tony could’ve bolted like Johnson after the Spurs pursued Kidd, Manu could’ve taken more money, and Tim could’ve demanded to score 25 a game, but those weren’t their priorities. That mindset never united the Suns, making the long-haul approach in PHX much, much more difficult than it looks on paper.

Even this week, after four years and no Finals appearances, here’s Amare throwing D’Antoni under the bus after Game 5:

Amare Stoudemire offered no words of support for D’Antoni — “That’s not my focus at all,” Stoudemire said — and was much more willing to expound on the need for the Suns to find a plan and stick with it, most importantly establishing who is going to be The Man on this team. Not surprisingly, he nominated himself.

Not the stuff of champions. And we won’t even get into the Sarver-Colangelo and D’Antoni-Kerr feuds…

Desert Madness

April 30, 2008

The media is already running so hard with news of D’Antoni’s imminent demise that I can’t tell if it’s sourced to anything except a huge swell of misplaced conventional wisdom. If D’Antoni and Kerr have philosophical differences they can’t resolve, and Toronto, Chicago, or Dallas really wants a fresh start with a fun-‘n’-gun coach, maybe they part ways by mutual agreement, and that makes sense.

But the implication that a total roster overhaul is also in the pipes… huh? Does this Suns’ loss really necessitate blowing up the team? Realistically, I can’t even see how it’s possible. Nash isn’t going anywhere. Shaq is untradeable. And does anyone believe they’re moving Amare? Any other move — like swapping Barbosa for a cheaper veteran — doesn’t really constitute an overhaul.

On top of that, this core had less than half a season to get this new offense running, and even with that the Spurs won in 5 more by fluke than dominance. I just don’t see the need to hit the panic button yet. The window is still open, even just barely. Develop a little youth and give it another shot next year, right?

Maybe the general feeling I’m getting from writing about the Suns is simply people realizing (a month or two late) that 7 Seconds or Less really is dead. It’s been gone, y’all.

It Sucks to Be a Suns Fan

April 29, 2008

Compare and contrast to last season’s Amare/Diaw suspensions:

The Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks escaped discipline for a Game 4 skirmish in which Kevin Garnett pushed off a referee while players on both benches stepped onto the court.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Tuesday there would be no fines or suspensions. Four technical fouls resulted in a game Atlanta won 97-92 to tie the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

The confrontation started when Garnett cleared out Zaza Pachulia with an elbow, and the Hawks forward went forehead-to-forehead with the Celtics star. A referee grabbed Garnett, but he, too, got a push as Garnett struggled to break free.

Celtics center Kendrick Perkins and Atlanta forward Marvin Williams acknowledged they stepped onto the court as they strained to see what was going on. Such actions are barred in the NBA, especially with commissioner David Stern looking on.

Reid: WTF? How does the NBA justify this shit? Do they just not care at all about consistency? This pisses me off and I don’t even care about the Suns.

Wright: No, I really don’t think they do. All Stern cares about is the league’s image at this very moment, and right now the image is trending positive, despite the physical play. A year ago, the brass was terrified of another brawl, and that’s what drove their decisions.

Adding injury to insult:

Shaq also will be 37 next season. What’s the chance over the next two seasons he slows down even more, along with Nash, and what’s the chance the Suns crash?

Here’s where Sarver (the Suns owner) begins to look more like Bill Bidwill (the Arizona Cardinals owner) than Cuban to those in Arizona: One of the draft picks he gave to Seattle (Kurt Thomas trade), Phoenix’s own in 2010, is unprotected.

In that colmn, Buck Harvey also points out that the Spurs are currently committed to only $53 million in contracts next year. The Suns will pay six players $68 million. Ouch.

The $60 Million Dollar Bad Ass

April 22, 2008

Rooting against the guy tonight and all, but, man, this is great:

That’s from Nash’s own production company, which maybe explains the funkiness that makes it so good. From Skeets.

It’s Called Confirmation Bias, You Moron

April 21, 2008

One dunce passes along the wisdom of another:

TrueHoop reader Isaac: “Watching the games between these two teams is becoming increasingly frustrating. To be fair, I hate the Spurs, and I feel like something is wrong with the world if they win yet another series against the Suns. I don’t like the Suns for any reason other than they are enjoyable to watch and I feel that on some level they “deserve” to win. On to my frustration: the Spurs are huge babies. This applies to Popovich, Duncan, and seemingly every other player on the court. Duncan has his Duncan Face everytime he doesn’t get a call. Ginobli lays out every single play that he is even slightly touched as if he in a soccer match. Oberto definitely does a lot acting to get Shaq in foul trouble each time these teams play. The trend I’ve seen is really disturbing though. The players and Popovich complain to the refs in the opening quarter and it seems to make the refs subconsciously favor the Spurs on the calls from then on out. Don’t the league execs heavily monitor these games to ensure that the refs are calling the games right? At this point doesn’t someone have to crack down on all the bs that the Spurs players employ in order to get cheap fouls called in their favor. These games are all unequivocally amazing to watch and they get ruined because of ridiculous foul calls.”

Look, I love watching Nash and Barbosa play, but Phoenix fans are turning into the whiniest bunch of chumps in the league. OK, you got screwed on the suspensions last year. Now it’s time for you to stop blaming the refs for the fact that your team doesn’t ever fucking execute down the stretch. Your team, full-strength, got their asses handed to them in Game 6 last year, and they screwed up at least 5 or 6 chances to ice Game 1 this year. Stop pretending the Spurs’ complaints and flops are any different than EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE LEAGUE or that the Suns deserve special treatment because they’re fun to watch.

This Seems Familiar

April 20, 2008

One day in and the playoffs are already as good as advertised. Something surprising is how quickly the matchups have settled into familiar patterns. That probably should’ve been expected with so many rematches from last season. But with all the trades and movement this year, I guess we all expected more upheaval.

Instead…

  • The Wiz talk big, then get overpowered by Lebron.
  • Really obvious questions: Why in God’s name would you provoke Lebron? He’s a human bulldozer and you decide to get physical with him?
  • The Suns look positively snake-bit against the Spurs, losing a game they were in position to win.
  • Q: Why not let Steve Nash win the game for you? He hit a huge clutch fade-away three in the second OT, but why didn’t D’Antoni run plays for him at the end of regulation or the first OT? As a Spurs fan, fine by me. Also: When is Amare going to learn to take what the defense gives him? He could’ve sealed the win in the first OT by knocking down a wide open 10-footer, but instead he went flying at the hoop, picked up an offensive foul, and fouled out. Whaaa?
  • Shaq plays terribly on offense, then tries to blame “the floppers.”
  • Q: For a guy who’s relied on the kindness of referees all career, he sure complains a lot, huh?
  • The Mavs face a quicker, less experienced team in the first round, then look completely¬† shell-shocked when the other team gets rolling. Dirk plays like a beast but gets zero help.
  • Q: How many more times will Howard, Terry, and Stackhouse disappear in the post-season? They combined to shoot 9-32. That’s Kenyon-Martin-in-a-big-game-esque.
  • Houston’s not getting out of the first round.
  • Q: This isn’t totally his fault, but when is McGrady going to learn that 20 points on 21 shots isn’t going to cut it.?
  • Denver is also on their way to flaming out again, because they apparently refuse to stop Gasol from dunking. Seriously, he sucks in the post! Just guard him!
  • Q: How many games before they start taking cheap shots and smirking like punks while getting their asses handed to them?

The one thing I didn’t expect: the Sixers are a lot better than I thought. They won’t beat Detroit, but they might give them trouble.

Guest Post: Hengst Rant #1

March 31, 2008

“Now I Remember Why I Hate Shaq”
By “Teenage” Hengst

When the 07-08 season began, I was feeling an unprecedented feeling of goodwill and empathy for Shaq. He was stuck on a bumbling Heat squad with a hobbled Dwyane Wade and was going through a divorce. It probably was not a fun time to be Shaq, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for him. His recent behavior, though, has helped to jog my memory of why he sucks.

First off, that snubbing of Tim Duncan’s outstretched hand in that Spurs-Suns game a few weeks ago was just ridiculous. Everyone knows he did it on purpose and what’s more, I’m fairly confident that he’s jealous of Duncan. Its just petty. But what really galls me is this trash he’s throwing at his former teammates in Miami. How small is Shaq that he’s kicking Chris Quinn when he’s down? I mean, we can debate Pat Riley’s culpability in all of this, and I agree with Shaq that Riley’s definitely bailed on this team at least as much as Shaq has. But show some gratitude, Shaq. You were dealt to a great situation and now you’re throwing barbs at Ricky Davis?

Why does the entire NBA media just give him a pass on this crap when he consistently shows himself to be this petty?

Schedules Again

March 6, 2008

A few weeks in, and some people are ready to pass judgment on the Shaq and Kidd trades. But as with teams like the Rockets, Lakers, and Spurs, who are streaking against mostly favorable competition, the Suns’ and Mavs’s schedules are data points worth a look, too.

Since the Shaq trade on Feb. 6, the Suns are 6-7, and 3-5 with Shaq in the lineup. Their schedule, again teams with winning records are in bold:

  • New Orleans – L
  • Seattle – W
  • Washington – W
  • Golden State – L
  • Dallas – W

Shaq starts playing

  • Lakers – L
  • Boston – W
  • Detroit – L
  • Memphis – W
  • New Orleans – L
  • Philadelphia – L
  • Portland – W
  • Denver – L

So of the seven losses, only one has been to a losing team, Philly, and they might still make the playoffs. Wins over Dallas and Boston have been offset by losses to New Orleans (x2), L.A., Detroit, G.S., and Denver. Five games against title contenders, plus three more against legitimately talented teams. That’s a pretty difficult run.

The Mavs have had it no easier. Since the Kidd trade on Feb. 19, they are 4-4 against a tough schedule:

  • New Orleans – L
  • Memphis – W
  • Minnesota – W
  • Chicago – W
  • San Antonio – L
  • Sacramento – W
  • LA Lakers -L
  • Utah – L

All four wins are against some crappy teams, but they were only about two favorable bounces/whistles from winning both the Spurs and Lakers games. Is this really reason to panic?

The concern, of course, is that both teams definitely don’t look like they’re clicking. The Suns, especially, have looked out of sorts on both sides of the ball. But I’m not sure what else you’d expect when each team is basically overhauling their entire style of play. It’s a far cry from Gasol going to the Lakers, where they just dropped him into Bynum’s slot and starting mopping up inferior competition, much to the analysts’ delight.

In a month, we’ll know more. I expect the Mavs will start catching some breaks. I think Kobe and the Lakers, unfortunately, will still look like a contender. It’s the Suns*, who were once the model for every rebuilding team in the league, now playing catch-up. Against a March schedule that gets no easier, they’ve got to be sweating Golden State and Denver, who are both less than four games back.

* Man, even if Phoenix sorts things out, how good is the chaos making Bryan Colangelo look? Robert Sarver done screwed up.

Big Stat Attack

February 26, 2008

Following up a previous post, let’s throw out some stats that seem like logical indicators of whether these huge trades worked. This isn’t ideal because I’m a little rushed, haven’t really explained why these are the stats I like, and don’t have the pre-trade numbers at my fingertips, but oh well, that’ll come. For now let’s grab the latest numbers from ESPN. A good glossary of the stats is at basketball-reference.com. Suggestions welcome in comments.

SPURS

  • I thought defensive rebound rate (DRR) would tell the tale, or perhaps defensive efficiency (Def Eff), but nope: the Spurs are currently first in DRR (77.5) and third in Def Eff (100.0). Looks like Kurt Thomas was brought in specifically for playoff match-ups against Shaq, Pau, et al. Or maybe we really were just sticking it to the Mavs.

MAVS

  • Assist rate — currently stuck at 16.4, 20th in the league, this will obviously improve with Kidd but how much?
  • Offensive efficiency and pace — at 108.2, the Mavs’ efficiency is solid, 8th in the league, but they play at a really slow pace, 91.8 possessions a game. Not sure what any change would mean, but I’ll be curious to see.
  • Dirk’s 3-pt. % — he’s currently at 29.9%, way below last year’s 41.6. Will less pressure to facilitate the offense free up his shot?

SUNS

  • Def. Eff. — 103.8, ranked 15th. Obviously they want it to improve, but not at the expense of their offense, which was humming at a league-best 110.0 points per 100 possessions.
  • DRR — 69.5, ranked next to last. (Marion was their best defensive rebounder before the trade, with a DRR of 23.0. Granted it’s only three games, but Shaq’s at 31.9 for the Suns.)
  • Amare’s numbers — It’s already obvious Shaq is freeing up his game, but will it be more than a few extra dunks and some weakside blocks?

CAVS

  • True shooting % — right now: 52.2, 24th in the league. I figure better spacing and some real 3-point shooters should get them to rely less on second-chance points. Cavs were 4th in the league in ORR.
  • Def Eff — this year it’s a pedestrian 103.8, 16th overall. Paging Ben Wallace.

BULLS & HAWKS

  • Off. Eff. — If these teams are going to improve, it’s going to have to be offensively, right? Chicago = 99.4/26th. Atlanta = 101.0/22nd. As a general rule anything below 100 is pretty awful.

LAKERS

  • Things are obviously clicking for the Lakeshow, but my one lingering question was if that would change when Bynum gets back. I thought maybe he and Gasol overlapped, so there would be trouble working the kid back in. Reid figured they’d leave Pau at the high post and continue to score in buckets. The stats seem to back him up. Pau is more of a scorer and distributor; Bynum hits the glass harder and cleans up more of the offensive scraps.
  • Bynum: 13.1 pts, 10.2 reb, 1.7 ast, and .636 FG% per game. Advanced: 127 Off. Rating, 17.4 Usage Rate, and 12.1 Off. Reb. %
  • Gasol: 22.0 pts, 7.1 reb, 2.9 ast, and .632 FG% per game. Advanced: 132 Off. Rating, 23.0 Usage Rate, and 6.8 Off. Reb. %

I hate to say it, but shit, that’s impressive.

In all, I hope to find time this week to talk more about these stats, especially Offensive Rating and Usage Rate, which haven’t been discussed as much on the internet as I would expect.


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