The Suns didn’t leave home the way they would have preferred after a 101-95 loss to Washington. Phoenix, however, has another chance at a good road swing starting tonight in Cleveland.
The matchup kicks off a four-games-in-five-nights road swing for the Suns, who went 1-4 earlier this month on an even longer trip away from US Airways Center.
Cleveland is in the midst of a five-game homestand and coming off a double-digit win over the Bucks.
The Suns would love to start this week on the right foot at the expense of a team that won consecutive games just three times all year. Here are five things to watch as the game unfolds.
Phoenix struggled protecting the defense glass against Washington, giving up 19 offensive rebounds.
They won’t get any rest tonight going up against Anderson Varejao (10.3 rpg) and Tristan Thompson (9.8 rpg)).
If the Suns can set an assertive tone boxing out earlier, it could go a long way toward negating one of the Cavs’ bigger advantages.
The Suns’ swingman had an unusually quiet night on Friday, taking just eight shot attempts for eight points. Phoenix missed his offensive production, putting up just 95 points after averaging over 117 over the previous four games.
Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek has said that Green is “the key” when it comes to the Suns’ success. That alone makes his production worth watching.
Dragic vs. Irving
The Cavs’ point guard is already slated to start the NBA All-Star game, but he’ll be going up against an All-Star-caliber opponent in Dragic, who is averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds in the month of January.
More concerning is how much energy both of them will spend guarding each other, if in fact that matchup remains the case throughout the game. If it does, look for how much gas each has left in the tank by crunch time.
Channing Frye’s biggest asset to the Suns is his ability to spread the floor with his shooting. But the veteran big man has been effective inside the arc on occasion, using pump fakes and drives to get to the rim.
That aggressiveness usually proves contagious. In last Sunday’s win over Denver, Frye hit 7-of-9 from two-point range and the Suns won the battle of points in the paint by 14.
Can Cavs Keep Up?
Cleveland averages just over 96 points per game, good for 23rd in the league. Luol Deng figures to up that average somewhat, but there’s still an overall lack of scoring punch despite the team’s collective talent.
If the Suns can find the offensive flow they had the majority of their homestand, even a mediocre defensive showing should make it difficult for Cleveland to keep pace on offense..