The road trip continues as the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Phoenix to play the Suns. The Suns have been a super confusing/bad team so far. Steve Nash is still awesome and one of my favorite players in the league, but they don't have as many weapons as they used to. If Nash manages to bring this squad to the playoffs, it will be his biggest accomplishment yet, maybe. That'd be downright amazing.
Song Of The Day: One Love- Bob Marley
I just got back from my vacation in Jamaica a few days ago and I'm not ready to let go of the music yet. Enjoy.
Cleveland Cavaliers (4-5) at Phoenix Suns (4-5)
The Cavaliers struggled mightily in protecting the paint in this loss to the Utah Jazz earlier this week. Fortunately, the Suns don't really have many low-post scorers for the Cavs to worry about. Marcin Gortat is a more than capable center, but outside of him, I'm not too worried. Gortat is averaging just 12.7 points per game, and that leads the Suns. He is playing some pretty limited minutes, however, at just over 26 minutes per game. His shooting percentage of over 61% is among the best in the league. Gortat is skilled, but it's nothing that Anderson Varejao cannot handle.
While perusing the stats and roster of the Suns, I noticed that Alvin Gentry is something similar to what Byron Scott is doing. He's spreading the minutes around and making sure that no one is playing too many in this compressed season. Only Jared Dudley has played more than 30 minutes per game. Both teams are utilizing their benches a lot and it shows. The Suns are 4th in the league in bench points per game while the Cavs are 5th. The second units will have a big impact on this game.
Steve Nash is still Steve Nash. I mentioned this in my opening, but it's true. His 3-point shooting may be down a little bit on the season so far (35.5%), but it's early and I'm pretty confident that he'll get it back to 40%+ by the end of the year. His field goal percentage is over 50% again and he'll probably end up with another 50-40-90 season when all is said and done. He's averaging 9.8 assists per game despite the relative lack of talent around him. He has no Amare Stoudemire to run the floor with, so he makes due with what he has. If Kyrie Irving ever learns to run an NBA team like Steve Nash, I'd be a very happy man.
The Suns are coming off a game in which Kobe Bryant dropped 48 on them. They basically got abused because they have no one who could defend him (who does?). Similarly, they don't have anyone that can guard Kyrie. Nash has never been a very good defender (this statement is pretty generous) and he hasn't gotten any younger. I wouldn't be surprised if Irving continues to embrace the role as the team's primary creator on offense and looks to score early and often. My mildly bold prediction is that Irving sets a new career high for points tonight and scores 26 on the Suns.
Marcin Gortat vs. Anderson Varejao
After Nash, Gortat is Phoenix's best player. He leads them in scoring and it will be up to Andy to stop him. I'm sure that Byron Scott emphasized the importance of protecting the paint after watching his team get systematically destroyed by the Jazz for 48 minutes on Tuesday. With the help of Tristan Thompson, I expect Varejao to effectively shutdown Gortat.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:
I already made the claim that Kyrie will set a new career high for scoring with 26 points. I also think that the Cavaliers will climb back to the .500 mark with a 99-93 win in the desert.