Lakers v. Suns Game Preview: Two Big Teams + Two Big Trades = One Big Game

John 'Fatty'-FatlandCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2008

“Its only the regular season. Its just one of many games. No big deal.”

Who said that?

A. Mike D’Antoni
B. Phil Jackson
C. All the Suns players
D. All the Lakers players
E. All of the above

Correct answer: E. All of the above

Who’s lying through their polished teeth?

A. Mike D’Antoni
B. Phil Jackson
C. All the Suns players
D. All the Lakers players
E. All of the above

Correct answer: E. All of the above.

Who feels this is the biggest game of the year so far?

A. The Phoenix Fan Forums
B. The Lakers Fan Forums
C. Jordan - “at least since the Celtics, Lakers Championships series” -  Jordan
D. All of the above

Correct answer: D. All of the above

The new and improved Lakers v. The new and improved Suns

This is going to be good. Both teams making monumental trades, and in theory, hoping to propel them to NBA glory.  The US Airways Center becomes the proving ground of which team made the best trade.

This is how important the game is to the fans of both teams. Already concerned and dealing with the potential of an emotional loss. Some are already rationalizing a defeat.

Phoenix Fan Forums: “If we lose, it’s because Shaq is still learning. Give him time and we will dominate.

Lakers Fan Forums: “If we lose, it’s because we are missing Andrew Bynum. When he comes back, we will dominate.

Keys to the game:

If you are the Phoenix Suns......

Can the fans do their job and inspire the Suns to excel? The last time these two teams played at the US Airways Center, the fans failed their team. The Lakers won easily. Suns Fans played a major role in the loss. As one loyal Suns fan lamented, “we let our team down. We took the Lakers for granted and they thumped us. Won’t happen again. I  promise you.”

Phoenix needs to see the new motivated Shaq, the high energy ‘Red Bull’. Actually, he  needs to become the ‘Raging Bull’. Without Andrew Bynum, the Suns have one large Saguaro of an advantage in the low post.

If you are the Los Angeles Lakers.....

Let Shaq dunk a few times. Don’t worry if he breaks the back board. He will eventually tire and have to sit. Even Kevin Garnett only played 20 minutes last night in his return.

Don’t stop Nash. Let him score early and often. He will eventually tire and have to sit.

If Coach D’Antoni has his way:

Although Shaq will play limited minutes, D’Antoni would love to have Pau Gasol get into foul trouble early against Shaq. Amare will slide back into the center position, with DJ Mbenga guarding him. Amare then goes for forty.

If Coach Jackson has his way:

The Lakers will run the triangle into the ground. Shaq will tire. Amare will get into foul trouble and the Suns will become discombobulated.

What I think will really happen:

The Suns will come out screaming. (The fans won’t blow it this time) The Lakers will chip away at the lead and make a game of it. In the last quarter, Shaq will sit and both coaches will play the usual combatants, just like the old days. Unfortunately, the game decider will probably be the refs and how close they call it. (I hate those guys)

Worth Watching Factor: 9  - A must see, worth staying up late for.

Gutless prediction of final outcome:
Not sure which team  will win. Lakers are on a back to back. Suns are rested and well prepared. I’d give the edge to the Suns.

But for sure, the NBA comes out of this the biggest winner.