In Phoenix, everything has changed. Well, not the terrain. It’s still always hot there, and they still grow cactuses.
As for the basketball team, man, what a fresh start.
The Suns now play an everyday style, methodically working the ball for the best open shot. They defend and scrap and possess very little pizzazz.
Not that the Steve Nash teams were a bunch of running-and-gunning wimps. But Nash is gone, taking the Suns’ old get-open-and-chuck-it philosophy with him.
Today, the Suns are mostly a mish-mash of guys aiming for a second chance. Small forward Michael Beasley was banished by Minnesota. Power forward Luis Scola was waived by Houston. Shooting guard Shannon Brown was once unwanted in Cleveland, Charlotte and Chicago. Point guard Goran Dragic was once traded by the Suns, only to return this past summer as a free agent. Now, he’s the starter.
Surprisingly, pro basketball’s closest version to a band of misfits doesn’t look half bad. Actually, that may not be all that surprising – especially when you consider Beasley showed flashes with the Timberwolves, and Scola and Dragic were always pretty good with the Rockets.
On top of that, center Marcin Gortat is sort of the Western version of the Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao, a rebounding robot who plays with loads of energy.
So you could make the case the Suns are every bit as good as they would be had Nash not wondered off to the Lakers.
That’s a philosophy of which the Cavs are certainly aware, as they make their lone appearance in Phoenix on Friday.
In Phoenix, the terrain is the same, the cacti still grows, and the Suns are every bit as dangerous. Just in a different kinda way.
US Airways Center, Phoenix, Ariz.
9 p.m. EST
FOX Sports Ohio HD (Cavaliers Live pre-game show begins at 8:30 p.m.)
Cleveland – WTAM-1100 AM (broadcast begins at 10 p.m.) Phoenix – Arizona Sports Radio 620-AM
C – Anderson Varejao; PF – Tristan Thompson; SF – Alonzo Gee; SG – Dion Waiters; PG – Kyrie Irving. Coach: Byron Scott.
C – Marcin Gortat; PF – Luis Scola; SF – Michael Beasley; SG – Jared Dudley; PG – Goran Dragic. Coach: Alvin Gentry.
Varejao (knee), Irving (stomach) and Miles (stomach) are all listed as probable for the Cavs. Waiters (quad) is questionable, and likely a game-time decision. … Varejao practiced Thursday after missing Wednesday’s loss at Golden State with right knee soreness. … Irving, Miles and Waiters did not practice. Irving and Miles were recovering from the food poisoning suffered prior to tip-off Wednesday. Waiters injured his thigh in the third quarter. It’s not expected to be serious. … Also, backup center Tyler Zeller (cheekbone) is out for the Cavs. … For the Suns, backup center Jermaine O’Neal has been inactive the past two games. … The Suns lead the all-time series, 60-39.