Confession time: I have a Tiger Beat poster of the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns on my wall. I wear the number 13 in rec basketball to honor my favorite athlete/humanitarian with spondylolisthesis. I own a copy of 7 Seconds Or Less, and have it resting on my bookshelf between the Bible and Koran.
With that said, the Milwaukee Bucks will not play the “Run and Gun” Suns this evening. Rather, they will take on a Phoenix team still not a bastion for defensive excellence, but now featuring a legit two-way big man (Marcin Gortat) alongside the Cocoon pool-bathing Steve Nash, who still drops dimes and floaters like a two-time MVP.
Milwaukee Bucks: 98.5 (20th)
Phoenix Suns: 98.5 (20th)
Milwaukee Bucks: 100.4 (18th)
Phoenix Suns: 102.4 (23rd)
Milwaukee Bucks: 95.3 (7th)
Phoenix Suns: 93.9 (18th)
Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Shaun Livingston, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden
Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash, Jared Dudley, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat
Box Score Advantage: Pickin’ & Rollin’
The Suns run a phenomenal pick and roll. The Bucks epically fail at defending pick and rolls. Thanks to inductive reasoning, the Bucks should, once again, have big problems with Phoenix’s Nash-Gortat pick and roll attack.
This season, according to Synergy Sports, 60.4% of Steve Nash’s total offensive contributions come as a ball handler in the pick and roll. Nash averages .94 points-per-possession on these plays and shoots 55.6% FG and 43.3% 3FG out of this set. Likewise, 36.3% of Marcin Gortat’s offense comes as a pick and roll man. Gortat averages an impressive 1.26 PPP (7th in the NBA), shooting a hyper-efficient 65.1% FG.
It seems like the Suns have been running pick and rolls since the first Rewatch the last Bucks-Suns game to get an idea of how dangerous this play is for Phoenix.
Matchup To Watch: Michael Redd vs. The Bradley Center crowd
Michael Redd might get the loudest cheer of the evening tonight in his first game wearing a non-Milwaukee Bucks uniform at the Bradley Center. Redd’s departure at the end of last season was probably overdue from a basketball standpoint, and there was little push back from fans or media members on the move.
However, the Bucks’ best player throughout the 2000s deserves some friendly recognition, and given the sudden lack of standing ovation-worthy play from Milwaukee, he’ll most likely make a half-empty arena sound completely full.
Bottom Line: Stop the P&R, or else
Milwaukee desperately needs a win to keep their fading playoff hopes alive, as the East won’t be accepting any borderline .500 teams this season. Brandon Jennings needs to exploit his matchup against Nash to counter the plethora of shooters Phoenix has at their disposal. If the Suns’ shots start falling, and Milwaukee has no counter, this could be another long night in the Bradley Center for the Bucks.