Game Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

Kurt —  December 25, 2007

Records: Lakers 17-10; Suns 0-0
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.9 (8th); Suns 114.1 (2nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.5 (9th); Suns 107.8 (15th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladamir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Suns: Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Grant Hill, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire

Merry Christmas To All: We’re going to be a little short and sweet on the preview today because I want to spend time with my family. But I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas (or the holiday of your choosing, we don’t discriminate here, except against Celtics fans). And I want to thank all of you for making this such a fun and rich place to talk hoops.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers book on the Suns is pretty well known by now — pound the ball inside, hit the offensive glass hard, play deliberate (not slow) and make Nash beat you with his shot and not lobs to his athletic guys on the wing. Defend the myriad of pick-and-rolls the Suns run (especially when they run “drags” where the a big screens for Nash out high very early in the clock) with good play from the bigs and quick rotations. Contain Barbosa. Make the Suns jump shooters. The Lakers did almost that in the second game of the season and got a D’Antoni-angering win. Which was fun.

However, those things are pretty much the opposite of what we have seen from the Lakers lately. They have fallen in love with the three — in part because Kobe is injured and pulling up more, and in part because VladRad and Sasha and Farmar can hit it, so they take it a lot. As kwame a. pointed out in the comments yesterday, there are good threes and bad threes — perimeter pull-up threes are bad shots for the Lakers, particularly against the Suns. However, inside out spot up threes (because Bynum passed out of a double or Kobe did the drive and dish) provide much better looks.

I’ll let commenter 81 Witness fill in the rest:

Note to Bynum: Stay put, don’t chase the high screen and leave Amare open.

Note to Fisher and Farmar: Let Nash shoot those 20-22 footers behind screens. Much better than him beating you off the dribble and dishing to a wide open Amare or Matrix. (Editor’s note: One thing you have to do with Nash is mix up your pick and roll coverage, stay with one thing too long and he gets comfortable and starts picking you apart.)

Note to all the other Lakers: Worry about your own man and do not break down and give the help defense.

Note to the bench: You will win this game for the Lakers. You are much better than the Suns bench and do not lull yourself asleep like you did against NY.

Note to PJ: Do not let the Lakers fall in love with the 3. You saw what happened in Cleveland and (against the Knicks).

Where you can watch: Game time is 2 p.m. (Pacific) and we’ll all be watching it on ABC. What I want from ABC for Christmas is a couple of “Lost” promos.