Before setting out on the road for three games in four nights out East, Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek labeled the upcoming road trip a chance to “try to band together as a team.”
They’ve done that and then some through offense (121 points on Sunday), defense (held Boston to 80 points on Friday) and everything in between (Alex Len’s go-ahead tip-in vs. the Celtics).
The Nets are next, giving Phoenix an opportunity to avenge the buzzer-beating defeat Brooklyn handed them way back in November. Whether they do so or not will likely hinge on at least the following five things.
Phoenix rediscovered its defense on Friday by holding Boston to just 30 percent shooting, but mustered just 87 points for themselves in the process.
They completely flipped the script on Sunday, exploding for 121 points but yielding 113 on nearly 50 percent shooting at the same time.
A happy medium (or a positive version of both extremes) would likely be the preferable outcome.
Then Is Not Now
When these two teams last faced off, Brooklyn was terrible. Repeat, terrible.
The 2014 version of the Nets boasts a 23-10 record.
Phoenix proved capable of beating improved teams after winning at Toronto (22-13 in 2014) on Sunday. They’ll need to forget and adjust in similar fashion at Brooklyn tonight.
Keef the Enforcer?
Markieff Morris has been on offensive tears before, but it’s his work on the boards that has really lifted the Suns recently.
On Sunday the former Kansas Jayhawk pulled down 14 rebounds, which equaled the total of the top three Raptors combined for in that game.
If Morris can continue his recent outburst (16.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg over the last three games) Phoenix’s bench will be even harder to contend with moving forward.
Brooklyn was labeled a win-now, veteran team entering this season after acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko.
They’ve since swapped Terry for heat-check-off-the-bench guy Marcus Thrornton (19 points on Saturday), are starting Mason Plumlee at center (yes, Miles’ brother) and are enjoying an injection of athleticism from Shaun Livingston in the backcourt.
While the Suns till have to contend with familiar faces like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce, don’t be shocked if the Nets’ more youthful characters have a big influence on the outcome.
Gerald Green has multiple reasons to pinch himself between his 28-point outing against the Ratpors and today’s holiday .
Phoenix, however, wouldn’t oppose to him not startling himself out of the Sunday groove he found , which saw him score more points in the fourth quarter (13) than the previous two games combined (12).