And so I sit in my La-Z-Boy sulking after seeing the Suns lose 105-100 to the Portland Trailblazers. I didn't think that the Suns would lose this game.
First quarter, Suns down, I thought the bench would create some separation. When it got tight late in the game, I felt they would hit key shots.
I was certain until Doug Collins asked when Portland would hit a big three-point shot and then, almost on cue, Andre Miller (who during the regular season shot 16-80 from three-point range) reluctantly shoots and hits a big three. Right then I knew the Suns were in trouble.
Here is what I saw that went wrong:
1. Andre Miller: He KILLED the Suns. He poses a problem for Steve Nash, as he is a very physical point guard. When he goes for 31 points, you know that things are not going well. Jason Richardson had to guard him and it apparently took away from his own offensive game, as he never got it going, shooting 4-14 for 14 points.
2. Portland's front-court size: Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge are long. Marcus Camby defends very well and is a monster on the boards. He frustrated Amare Stoudemire, defending him well and keeping him from getting fired up.
3. Free throw differential: Portland shot 23-31 from the line. Phoenix only had 16 attempts, connecting on 13 of them. This was a combination of great interior defense and less attacking the basket by the Suns.
4. Amare Stoudemire: Reasons 2 and 3 were the contributing factors. Portland's defense kept him from getting easy baskets early. When Stoudemire gets a couple of easy hoops, he gets more aggressive and that leads to more easy baskets and free throws. He was clearly having issues with Camby's size and skills. His frustration was evident and this led to fouling out.
5. Bad shooting: At the end of the day, the Suns couldn't hit the shots that they typically hit. They shot 41.8% for the game. Phoenix, while it has done it before (their last win against Portland in the regular season), is not built to win games when the players are missing shots.
Am I worried after the game one loss? Not really. This team has responded all year. It will respond again. They played poorly offensively and had chances to win the game.
They will not shoot this badly the whole series. Coach Alvin Gentry will make the necessary adjustments. Suns in 6 (I would have predicted Suns in 5 before game one).
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