The Nuggets will hope to turn the tables on the Suns tonight on the back end of a home and home with Phoenix.
The one silver lining I took out of last night’s game was that the Suns rode their starters pretty hard in order to pull out the win. If one team or the other has to deal with fatigue tonight, it should be the Suns more than the Nuggets. A fan over at Bright Side of the Sun noticed the same thing, but argues the handful of extra minutes the Suns starters played will be a factor.
The two Suns I wonder about from a fatigue standpoint are Raja Bell and Shaq. The Blue Raja Bell played 44 minutes last night, tied for the second most minutes he has played all season. Over Phoenix’s three sets of back to backs in March he played a combined total of 72, 69 and 81 minutes. I cannot imagine Bell playing another effective 38-40 minutes where he is splashing threes left and right.
Shaq played 35 minutes last night and in the three sets of back to backs in March he played between 62 and 64 minutes combined. That leaves him looking at 27 to 30 minutes of floor time and who knows how effective he will be. Of course all he has to do to be effective is stand there and continue to weigh 350 pounds, but a fast paced game will eliminate some of the problems he caused the Nuggets last night.
Whether or not Phoenix is worn out the Nuggets must win this game. If they win tonight, they will end up with 50 or 51 wins. If they lose, they are looking at 49 or 50 and it will probably all come down to whether or not they beat Golden State in Oakland on April 10th. Winning that game would give them the head to head tiebreaker over both Dallas and the Warriors.
The bottom line is if we end up being subjected to another defensive performance like the second half last night will send the fans into a revolt and any advantage from the home court will dissipate.
Phoenix is too good offensively for any team to shut them down both inside and out. Denver will have to choose if they are going to press the three point shooters or clog the paint and make things hard on Amare and Shaq. One thing we do know is not guarding the three point line or the paint is a recipe for disaster.
I would start the game jumping pick and rolls and packing the paint to prevent Amare rolling free and see where that gets me. It will be a scramble to get back out to the three point line, but if Phoenix shoots as well as they did last night Denver is in trouble anyway. If they can keep Nash from having open looks off the screen and block any lanes for Amare to get the pass and just drive to the rim that will be more than half the battle. Of course Camby, and to a lesser extent Kenyon, do not feel the need to leave the paint if their man is setting a pick so my entire philosophy is entirely utopian.
We had some nice conversation going during the game last night so feel free to leave a comment or two while we watch yet another make or break game.
Again, head over to Bright Side of the Sun for some tremendoous Suns blogging.