Phoenix Suns (51-27, 21-18 road) vs. Okla. City Thunder (48-30, 25-14 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 108.2 (13th), Suns – 115.5 (1st)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 104.3 (8th), Suns – 110.7 (24th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.0 (14th), Suns – 95.3 (4th)
View from the enemy: Valley of the Suns
Who’s tired? I’m tired. These past two games have worn me out and the worst part is, it’s not getting any easier. I don’t think I’m cut out for the playoffs. My inexperience is and youth is really showing. And now we’ve got another huge game coming off a tough loss. I just hope my heart doesn’t explode tonight.
The last time the Suns were in town, Oklahoma City built a big lead late in the third and early fourth (much like Denver), only to blow it later with bad, bad offensive execution (much like Denver). At that was Phoenix being sans Steve Nash.
Phoenix coming in: The Suns last played Wednesday against San Antonio. They’re scorching hot (hahahahaha) having won 11 of 12. On the road, they’re 21-18.THE MATCHUPS
The main matchup is the Thunder vs. Amare Stoudemire. OKC just has no one to guard him. Serge Ibaka has the athleticism, but Amare pushes him around. Nick Collison has the grit to frustrate Amare, but not the ability. And honestly, most teams in the league face this same predicament. Amare Stoudemire is just a tough guard.
So really, you’ll just have to accept the fact he’s likely going to put up a 30-10 spot tonight. They key after that is limiting open 3s for Channing Frye, keeping Louis Amundson and Jarron Collins (who is filling in for Robin Lopez) off the glass for second opportunities and doing your best to keep Steve Nash from running wild. The Suns are a dynamic offensive team and no matter what, they’re tough to cover.
What’s in the Thunder’s favor is that Phoenix doesn’t match up well the opposite way either. They have no one to guard Kevin Durant (58-year-old Grant Hill will likely get the call). Russell Westbrook torches slower, smaller guards and Nash isn’t a good defender to start with. The Thunder bench has been strong with Eric Maynor playing well lately and James Harden a candidate to get hot any night. And Nenad Krstic can pull Phoenix’s bigs out of the paint to create space for Jeff Green inside or outside. So it’s not like this is a bad matchup for OKC. There’s a reason all the games have been close.
It’s another big one in the Ford Center and if anything, you want to see the Thunder win just for the sake of protecting the home floor. You never like losing twice in a row at home. Plus, we haven’t seen many three-game losing streaks, so I’d prefer to nip this one in the bud before it happens.
Tip at 7:00 CDT. Go Okies.