This is another in a series of Gameday Q&A's I'll be having with other NBA and team bloggers once a week. For tonight's game, I talked to Ben York from Ben's Suns Blog. Also be sure and checkout Ben's questions for me and my responses.
1. What are your thoughts on the acquisition of Jason Richardson now that he's played a few games for the Suns. Do you think he gives the Suns enough to get over the hump and make a finals run?
I'm not sure Jason Richardson gives us enough to make a finals run, but he certainly gives us another dimension that we were missing with Bell at the 2 guard. He is an underrated defender and a great rebounder who changes the complexion of the opponent's defense...much more than Bell. Essentially, we have the tools and players to make a run but our defense needs to improve before that happens.
2. Is Terry Porter living up to expectations? If the Suns don't make the playoffs or lose in the first round, do you think he'll be gone in the offseason?
I think Terry Porter has an incredibly difficult job with huge expectations. Coming in after a popular and successful coach is certainly not easy and rarely successful. I do love the more disciplined approach he brings to the team and his overall vision. I had a feeling we'd start out slow. I also love the fact that he is willing to compromise and make adjustments...something that D'Antoni was not known for.
3. How do you think this "new" Suns team matches up against the Spurs? With Boris Diaw and Raja Bell gone, can Richardson really defend Manu Ginobili and some of the better twos out there that can slash?
To be honest, I have no idea how this Suns team will match up against the Spurs since we have so many new pieces. I do think they are a tough guard for the Spurs now that we have another Joe-Johnson-type player in J-Rich (something we haven't had since the 04-05 season). Shaq played Duncan pretty well last season and he is in even better shape this year. Manu is really impossible to guard so I'm hoping that the recent string of career high nights from other guards against the Suns won't continue. I'm really not confident in the Suns ability to rotate on defense and to beat the Spurs (more specifically Parker and Manu) this is essential.
4. What do you think the reason has been for the Suns slow start. I can't say I expected the Suns to be 16-11 and 8th in the West.
I think the main reason for the slow start was due to trying to change the identity of the team too much. Porter and Kerr, in my opinion, have the right vision for the team to make a deep run in the playoffs but we were caught up in our half-court sets too much early on. I think that early on we just stopped running and didn't allow Nash to create. While I do believe that we need Shaq to get quite a few touches since he still is a force in the post and a good distributer, I think it would be detrimental not to allow Nash to create. One thing I'm excited about is that we have options for a back-up point guard in Dragic, Barbosa, and now Dee Brown which we really haven't had in the past. So much of the Suns problem is playing consistently for 48 minutes and limiting their turnovers. I think if they can limit their turnovers, we'll surprise a lot of people.
5. Prediction time. Do you think the Suns take the season lead 2-0 or do the Spurs even it up?
Like you, I have to make the homer pick. The Suns have built some confidence and excitement in the past 5 games getting their identity back. However, so have the Spurs. The Suns have won 5 in a row at home and have had 4 days off to get rested and fresh. One thing I'm not confident about is that the game is on national T.V. For some reason, the Suns just don't play well on national television. Should be a great game, none the less.