Throughout the broadcast of Game 2 between the Lakers and Suns Thursday night, TNT analysts Charles Barkley kept hammering home a simple point: the Suns are simply too small to beat the Lakers. Citing Steve Nash’s comments, Barkley astutely pointed out that the Suns probably aren’t going to get taller during the series.
We hear you, Chuck.
Even though the Suns aren’t going to get any bigger, it’s very obvious that they could (and should) do a few things differently in Game 3 Sunday.
The Suns need to play with more effort and more intelligence on the defensive end.
Pau Gasol is absolutely abusing Amar’e Stoudemire, who hasn’t gotten in a defensive stance during his entire NBA career. Gasol is a tough cover for anyone; he has incredible footwork and a wide-array of post moves. But he had at least six layups/dunks during Game 2 thanks to bad rotations by the Suns and horrible pick and roll defense by Amar’e.
At some point, it has to become a matter of pride. Amar’e believes in himself and his ability to dominate on the offensive end. The Suns need to make a better effort to get him the ball and see what he can do. Even if Amar’e doesn’t hit shots, he needs to at least make Gasol and Lamar Odom work on the defensive end.
If Amar’e isn’t aggressive offensively, he might as well be on the bench. He brings no value to the Suns.
A little more effort from Amar’e could limit Gasol to around 20 points. That would be enough to give the Suns a pretty decent chance, especially at home.
Aside from Stoudemire’s struggles, Alvin Gentry’s strategy to double-team Kobe in Game 2 clearly backfired. Kobe looked comfortable from the opening tip, finishing with 21 points and a playoff career-high 13 assists.
When the Suns doubled, they left the wrong people open. Ron Artest is capable of hitting standstill corner 3’s. Derek Fisher has made a career out of it.
The Lakers are simply too good to double team Kobe. Just play him straight up with Grant Hill or Jared Dudley, make him work, and hope that he slowly starts to lose his burst as the series drags on.
How long with series last? The prevailing sentiment after Game 2 is that the Suns have no chance. But the Suns aren’t going to stop scoring–the Lakers probably won’t get 120 again in Game 3. Role players tend to play better at home–meaning Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar are unlikely to replicate their strong numbers in the first two games.
How often does a road team score 107 and 112 points on the road and lose? Frankly, it shouldn’t happen.
Time to man up, Phoenix.