The San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns will face off tonight and to discuss the matchup Project Spurs own Quixem Ramirez and Suns blogger Colby Smithwick.
Quixem: The Suns are eighth in net rating per 100 possessions (+3.5). Are they legit?
Colby: Depends on what "legit" means. As a fan, I'd love to say they're contenders, but they're still missing a big man that can operate with Bledsoe/Dragic in the pick and roll game (COUGH COUGH KEVIN LOVE COUGH COUGH). Our opp points per game is 23rd out of 30, so the defense is our Achilles heel. We also struggle in the half court offense, but that's something Hornacek can fix when he gets an adequate big man. Hornacek has done wonders with this team, and I couldn't be more proud of him. Coach of the Year, IMO. Dragic deserves Most Improved Player, too, because that 22.3 PER is pretty great.
They've been 14-10 since Eric Bledsoe's injury, when many expected them to fall off the place of the planet. How have they kept winning?
Again, Dragic and Hornacek. Dragic has thrived in the absence of Bledsoe, and Hornacek made the proper adjustments to counter the easier part of the Sun's schedule. 14-10 is a solid Bledsoe-less record, and the addition of Leandro Barbosa helped out a decent amount. Gerald Green has been phenomenal for us as well, and he's our second leading scorer behind Dragic. Channing Frye's recovering extremely well from his heart surgery, and is second on our team in win shares, so he's been huge for us too. Basically, Hornacek has a great game plan that the role players thrive in. We have shooters, athletic young guys, and players who move the ball and can run.
Can the Suns upset a team in the first round? Who is their ideal matchup?
Well, the west is pretty damn tough. If I had to pick someone to play against, though, I'd want the Clippers. We're 7-3 against our division this season, and we have a successful history when it comes to playing well against our division, so, yeah. Right now we're matched up against the Rockets, and I don't trust our defense against them, plus Dwight Howard is still a monster (with something to prove, too). We've played the Clippers well this season, and it will be Doc's first year coaching in the western playoffs, so if we draw them I think we have a good shot of getting out of the first round as the 5th seed.
Prediction for tonight?
Well, the Suns are 18-9 at home this season, and have won 2 straight. Tony Parker is out, but the Spurs have won four straight without him. Ginobili being back makes that not that big of a deal, even though he's still slowly recovering. Patty Mills has been phenomenal for SA (benefactor of Pop's system) and throw in Belinelli's play, and it's (almost) like the Spurs aren't missing anything. It's always a tossup between the Suns-Spurs because it's a great rivalry, tempers flair, blah blah etc etc. I'm gonna go with the Suns winning, though, because the Spurs have to drop at least one game on the rodeo trip, right?