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Pre-Game Notes on the Suns

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  •  Chris Paul owns Steve Nash. The Hornets have gone 5-0 since moving back full time to New Orleans, with Paul averaging 27.2 ppg, 10.8 apg, 5.2 rpg, 1.8 topg, and 3.8 spg to Nash's 19.8 ppg, 10.4 apg, 2.8 rpg, 5.4 topg, and 0.2 spg. 
  • Amare Stoudemire owns David West. He averages 7.8 points per game more than West, head to head, 3.5 more rebounds, and 1 more block.
  • The Suns have struggled mightily in containing guards recently. Dwayne Wade went off for 43 two games ago, and in their last game, Devin Harris torched them with a 47/8/7 performance. Given how well Paul normally plays against this team, that's a great sign.
  • Steve Nash seems to have a variety of ailments. He sat out a game due to a thigh contusion, then missed today's shoot around with a "virus." So potentially, we might see Goran Dragic start tonight against CP3. Or Strawberry? I'm not familiar enough with the Suns' lineup to make an accurate guess here.
  • Leandro Barbosa returned to action last week and dropped 20 on Miami. Barbosa and Jason Terry make me miss Jannero Pargo more than anyone else in the league.
  • Funny preview post from Bright Side of the Sun.
  • In recent days, we've heard Steve Nash take a veiled jab at the Suns' Shaq based offense. Now, it looks like the Suns' offense may be going back to its old Nash based system. Quoth Terry Porter: "It's a lot easier to control turnovers from one guy than from 12 guys. If Formula 1 isn't working, you go to Formula 2." The Suns offensive efficiency of 108.9 is good for 8th in the league, but it's a far, far cry from their ridiculous 113.3 offensive efficiency of a year ago.So this is probably in their best interest.
  • One thing that struck me about the Suns' new (slower) pace this year was that it was too artificially created. What do I mean by that? I really don't feel the Suns had the personnel to reduce their pace by 5 possessions a game. Sure, Shaq's on the team. But the rest of the team is composed of a fast dribbling and passing point guard, a ton of outside shooters, and a power forward that's adept at the midrange game and can run the floor. My feeling is that the Suns' pace of 91.8 is way too slow for them.
  • If I'm a Suns' fan, I really hope the pace isn't deluding the front office into thinking the defense has improved. Raw stats alone indicate that the Suns are allowing 99.7 points per game, or 5.3 points per game less than last year. Again though, they are playing roughly 5 possessions fewer per game. The Suns defensive efficiency last year: 108.0. This year: 108.1. This team is as mediocre on D as last year; they're still allowing just as many points per possession. The pace is just hiding it a little.
  • Phoenix is absolutely struggling with turnover issues. They were 15th in the league with a 13.5% TOV rate last year, but they're currently dead last with a 16.5% rate. That's much, much worse than the next worst team, the Memphis Grizzlies. The Hornets rank 6th in the league in takeaways, so expect a nice advantage here.
  • Phoenix has shored up the defensive rebounding a ton with the addition of Shaq. That said, they've merely jumped from 2nd worst in the league to 18th overall. So it's another chance for Tyson and David West to get back on track on the glass.
  • The Suns also foul quite a bit. Given how infrequently the Hornets get to the line, I'm not sure that will come into play. But it's another avenue we might get to explore tonight.
  • All right, after all those bullets, you must be wondering: how in the world are the Suns 11-7? They turn the ball over, they don't rebound well, they don't defend well, they foul too much. How do they possibly have 11 wins? Well, they shoot the ball. Lights. Out. 2.4% better than any other team in the league (which is quite a bit). Raja Bell and Matt Barnes have just been unconscious from deep (combined 66 for 147). If Posey, Wright, and Co. do not close out shooters tonight, kiss this game goodbye.
  • Geaux Hornets!!!