10 Must-See Suns Games of 2014-15
October 27, 2014
Suns vs. Lakers at US Airways Center on Oct. 29
Recent hard times notwithstanding, the Lakers are still the Lakers, and any day is a good day to beat L.A.
Kobe Bryant will be hell-bent on proving he’s not done despite two consecutive injuries, while his supporting cast will be out to prove its not as big a let-down as everyone is making it out to be.
On the other side of the court, Eric Bledsoe will be back with a vengeance while Isaiah Thomas should make a splash of a debut in a Suns uniform.
Fun fact: the Lakers haven’t won the season series with Phoenix since the 2010-11 season.
Suns vs. Spurs at US Airways Center on Oct. 31
Rivalries are always a must-see, and this year’s matchup against the black-and-silver is no exception. If anything, there’s extra incentive to oust the defending champs.
Two other factors to remember: the Spurs handed the Suns one of three key late-season defeats that kept them from making the playoffs last year. Also, has Goran Dragic supplanted Manu Ginobili as the best crafty/left-handed/foreign-born player in the league?
This game will be a good way to find out.
Suns vs. Grizzlies at US Airways Center on Nov. 5
This will be an early litmus test of strength for the Suns, who simply couldn’t solve Memphis last season. In each game, the Suns were out-muscled and out-rebounded. They didn’t hit the 100-point mark in any of the four losses.
The characters have changed only slightly for Phoenix, but those changes are significant. Markieff Morris will be counted on for more minutes at power forward, where he’ll do battle with Zach Randolph. Alex Len is also a candidate for an increased role in which he’d test himself against Marc Gasol.
In short, we’ll find out a lot about the strength of the Suns’ big men in this matchup.
Suns vs. Warriors at US Airways Center on Nov. 9
Slash Bros. vs. Splash Bros., Season 2.
The Warriors found out first-hand last season that they’re not the only team in the league with a lethal backcourt. The two teams split their four meetings in 2013-14, with Dragic/Bledsoe and Curry/Thompson shooting sprees of epic proportions.
Isaiah Thomas will add another interesting element to this guard-centric battle. The one thing we can be sure of: at least one guard will have a completely and unconsciously nuts shooting night.
Suns vs. Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on Dec. 17
So many things to like about this matchup.
First, the Hornets are back in Charlotte with the teal and purple. Such a huge win for all of us who are old enough to know.
Secondly, Suns rookie T.J. Warren is heading back into the heart of ACC country, which he dominated to the tune of nearly 25 points per game as a sophomore for North Carolina State last season.
Finally, the game marks a comeback for Suns veteran forward Anthony Tolliver, who played for Charlotte last season. Don’t be surprised if the Hornets wince every time he hoists a three-pointer.
Suns vs. Kings at Sleep Train Arena on Dec. 26
Make no mistake, Isaiah Thomas is looking forward to this one. The former Sacramento point guard is thrilled to be in Phoenix, but he has every intention of making the Kings regret letting him go. At the very least, he’s sure to get a rousing ovation from Sacramento fans, who were nearly unanimous in their sadness at seeing him go.
It’s also worth noting that the Kings were one of the few non-playoff teams that gave the Suns issues last season. Sacramento won the first two meetings of the year. At the time, those losses were frustrating, but not deemed as season-breaking.
After missing the playoffs by one game, it’s a good bet Phoenix won’t want to let another should-win get away from them.
Suns vs. Cavs at US Airways Center on Jan. 13
LeBron James is must-see, right?
On a sentimental note, Goran Dragic can empathize with James’ offseason, having performed his own return to his original team (Phoenix) in 2012. The Suns’ guard is a prime example of how refreshing a comeback can be.
Other things to watch: P.J. Tucker’s defensive effort against James’ and the Suns’ backcourt vs. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
Suns vs. Clippers at US Airways Center on Jan. 25
The dirty secret half of L.A. isn’t talking about: the Clippers are the team to beat in the Pacific Division.
It’s true. Los Angeles’ “other” team has won the last two Pacific crowns, making them the team to beat if you want a top-four seed in the playoffs.
Another seldom-spoken secret: Phoenix destroyed the Clippers last season in the only game its starting backcourt was healthy. Eric Bledsoe has successfully transformed himself into an All-Star talent at point guard. Him showing as much against his old mentor (Chris Paul) will be a must-watch affair.
Suns vs. Thunder at US Airways Center on Feb. 26
Kevin Durant is worth the price of admission, but it was the Thunder who paid for their clashes with Phoenix in 2013-14. The Suns won two of the three meetings with OKC, once due to offense (Gerald Green’s 41-point explosion) and once because of defense (P.J. Tucker was everywhere).
The Thunder once again figure to be among the Western Conference elite. If Phoenix can again come out on top in this particular season series, it will give them a few wins they need while adding further weight to their reputation.
Suns vs. Blazers at US Airways Center on March 27
After winning the Most Improved Player award last season, Goran Dragic admitted that “it was my pleasure, proving people wrong.”
The Blazers offer a unique opportunity to do that. Damian Lillard made the All-Star team ahead of Dragic in 2013-14. Here’s the numbers breakdown leading up to the All-Star break:
Lillard: 20.7 ppg, 5.7 apg, 3.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 42.4 FG%, 40.4 3FG%
Dragic: 20.5 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.4 spg, 50.9 FG%, 41.1 3FG%
The hope here is that Dragic has at least some of this in mind before he takes the floor against one of the guys who took an All-Star spot over him.