Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

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pickle
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by pickle »

Mori Chu wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:38 am
I am not sure how to feel about this team. On one hand, I'm ecstatic; we have one of the best records in the league, and we have so many players I like, and we're so much better than we've been for years. On the other hand, this doesn't "feel" like a true title contender to me. It feels to me like we'll get bumped in the 2nd round or something like that. But why? What exactly feels off about them?

I think inconsistency from the frontcourt worries me a lot. Much has been made of Ayton's inconsistency, but I also worry a lot about how I never know what I'm going to get from Bridges night to night. Bridges always plays great D, and I love him for that. But on a lot of nights he just disappears on offense and doesn't put up very many points. I wish his 3-point shot were more consistent or that he attacked the basket with more consistency. Having Cam Johnson as a backup helps a lot, since you can just kind of swap one guy out for the other when they are having an off night. But I worry about production from the 3 spot.

You can make a similar argument about the 4 spot. I like Crowder and feel like he's delivering what I want from him. But you don't always know what you'll get from him in a given game. And our backup 4s are pretty bumpy; either we're playing a guy like Kaminsky or we're trying to cheat with an undersized 4 like Cam Johnson or Craig. Ultimately I have no idea whether the 4 spot will give us 6 points a game or 26. And that's tough.

So yeah, Ayton is a flawed player and sometimes disappoints. But I do feel like I usually know what he'll give me. A typical Ayton game, you'll get about 15-18 points and about 10-12 rebounds. He doesn't usually stray too far from those numbers. I never expect Ayton to score 30, and I never worry that he'll score 5. He's actually pretty consistent compared to our other forwards, imo. And you don't have to tailor your whole offense around him. I can work with what he provides.

Since the Nuggets may have lost Murray for the season, that does change the playoff landscape. You can come up with scenarios where we could squeak into the WCF and have a puncher's chance. I am not afraid of the Jazz; I think we'd beat the Clips; and I think we would beat the Nugs if Murray is absent. That means that only the Lakers would truly scare me. And their health has been a bit questionable, too. I know they're resting for the playoffs, but if Lebron and Davis aren't both close to 100%, the Lakers would be very beatable. I still don't feel like this is the best team in the West, but I suppose if the dominos all fall in the right way, anything could happen.

Hmm. Am I talking myself into this team, or out of it?
I agree wholeheartedly with pretty much everything in this post. I have a small group of friends who are avid followers of the NBA in my chat app, one of whom said they were "selling" on the Suns and I asked what that meant, and he said he didn't think the Suns were true contenders, and I told him pretty much exactly what you said Mori, that I think the Suns are a second round out at this point. Anything more than that is gravy for me.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Flagrant Fowl »

I'm extremely cautious about projecting playoff success this year because there are only two guys on the roster who've played major minutes and been in huge playoff games. (Paul, Crowder)

We can hold onto their performance in the bubble last year, but that wasn't the playoffs. They weren't playing the same opponent in a series and sometimes those opponents weren't locked in like they would've been if it were a playoff game.
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Mori Chu »

Flagrant Fowl wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 11:06 pm
I'm extremely cautious about projecting playoff success this year because there are only two guys on the roster who've played major minutes and been in huge playoff games. (Paul, Crowder)

We can hold onto their performance in the bubble last year, but that wasn't the playoffs. They weren't playing the same opponent in a series and sometimes those opponents weren't locked in like they would've been if it were a playoff game.
What I worry about is that some team will "solve" us in the playoffs. Like they'll figure out how to run our shooters off the 3-point line and double Booker to clamp him down. And we won't be able to bust through it. I could be wrong; we have a potent offensive team, and nobody's been able to consistently stop us so far this season. But it feels like we haven't faced the very best defenses and opponents in a playoff atmosphere yet.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by BKinSJC »

Yeah. Until you've done it, you don't know for sure if you can do it. And even with Paul, Crowder, and Craig, it's still a team that's relying very heavily on younger guys and/or guys who haven't ever been there. Booker, Ayton, Bridges, the Cams, Saric, and possibly Carter - that's 6 or maybe 7 guys who will need to play real rotation minutes that have very little playoff experience. It's bound to be eye-opening, and it wouldn't come as a surprise if not all of them are ready to deal with that pressure this soon. The fact that the team will almost certainly be somewhere between the first and third seed adds to it, because there's an expectation of winning at least one round, maybe two or three. It's a lot for the first time around. Most younger teams on the way up get a year as a 7 or 8, and minimal expectations against a contender, without much backlash if they're a little overwhelmed. This team doesn't get that.

I like the fact that the team can win, and has won, in multiple ways this year. Hitting tons of threes at a high level, or playing to emphasize the midrange. Shootouts and ugly defensive struggles. Games dominated by the starters and others by the bench. I think it will be difficult for an opponent to consistently take away everything, since there are a number of things the team can do well. We've seen what happens with a team that's incredibly good at one thing (like the D'Antoni/Nash era Suns) when they run into that one opponent that has the personnel and strategy to gum up that thing and make it less effective (like the Spurs consistently did). So I'm hopeful this team won't be easily gameplanned out of existence; but again, it's also a coaching staff that's dealing with higher expectations than it's seen before. So there's no good way to know.

I really hope they end up making a good run, but I'm not incredibly disappointed if it doesn't end in the WCF or the finals. Regardless of what happens next, this season can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Last year was about un-fucking-up a franchise that had been on the skids for most of a decade; this year can be about seeing who and what can (and can't) be part of the next level.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by O_Gardino »

My biggest concern is that someone gets in Booker's or Paul's head and those guys kill the offense trying to be heroes. My second biggest concern is that DA is intimidated by the physicality of the playoffs and retreats into his shell.
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by jonh »

O_Gardino wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:18 am
My biggest concern is that someone gets in Booker's or Paul's head and those guys kill the offense trying to be heroes. My second biggest concern is that DA is intimidated by the physicality of the playoffs and retreats into his shell.
Agreed--I am anxious that Booker goes into the playoffs feeling like he needs to now turn into some sort of super saiyan Playoff Book in order for the team to be successful. I wouldn't be shocked if he is just terrible the first 2 playoff games (and maybe during elimination games), because he feels so much pressure to do everything.
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by ShelC »

Mori Chu wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:38 am
I am not sure how to feel about this team. On one hand, I'm ecstatic; we have one of the best records in the league, and we have so many players I like, and we're so much better than we've been for years. On the other hand, this doesn't "feel" like a true title contender to me. It feels to me like we'll get bumped in the 2nd round or something like that. But why? What exactly feels off about them?

I think inconsistency from the frontcourt worries me a lot. Much has been made of Ayton's inconsistency, but I also worry a lot about how I never know what I'm going to get from Bridges night to night. Bridges always plays great D, and I love him for that. But on a lot of nights he just disappears on offense and doesn't put up very many points. I wish his 3-point shot were more consistent or that he attacked the basket with more consistency. Having Cam Johnson as a backup helps a lot, since you can just kind of swap one guy out for the other when they are having an off night. But I worry about production from the 3 spot.

You can make a similar argument about the 4 spot. I like Crowder and feel like he's delivering what I want from him. But you don't always know what you'll get from him in a given game. And our backup 4s are pretty bumpy; either we're playing a guy like Kaminsky or we're trying to cheat with an undersized 4 like Cam Johnson or Craig. Ultimately I have no idea whether the 4 spot will give us 6 points a game or 26. And that's tough.

So yeah, Ayton is a flawed player and sometimes disappoints. But I do feel like I usually know what he'll give me. A typical Ayton game, you'll get about 15-18 points and about 10-12 rebounds. He doesn't usually stray too far from those numbers. I never expect Ayton to score 30, and I never worry that he'll score 5. He's actually pretty consistent compared to our other forwards, imo. And you don't have to tailor your whole offense around him. I can work with what he provides.

Since the Nuggets may have lost Murray for the season, that does change the playoff landscape. You can come up with scenarios where we could squeak into the WCF and have a puncher's chance. I am not afraid of the Jazz; I think we'd beat the Clips; and I think we would beat the Nugs if Murray is absent. That means that only the Lakers would truly scare me. And their health has been a bit questionable, too. I know they're resting for the playoffs, but if Lebron and Davis aren't both close to 100%, the Lakers would be very beatable. I still don't feel like this is the best team in the West, but I suppose if the dominos all fall in the right way, anything could happen.

Hmm. Am I talking myself into this team, or out of it?
I agree with a lot of this and totally get the apprehension. I think it maybe has something to do with a lack of "star power" compared to the other contenders featuring LBJ/AD, Kyrie/Harden/KD, Giannis...We have one true star in Book who's not yet proven in the playoffs and not really regarded as a superstar (yet) plus a highly respected name veteran in Paul who's a star but your typical cornerstone/franchise "star". The rest of the team, even our #1 pick center, are role players. We play exceptionally well as a team with a great system and have guys who can step up when others are off. The question for me is whether our depth and (very, very good) role players can overcome star power. If a team does scheme to take out Book, can the role players step up and make the other team adjust; can one guy breakout and become that 2nd/3rd star (Bridges/Cam/Payne?) we're maybe lacking? I do think not having that other scoring threat in the lineup opposite Book could become an issue.

Our lack of depth up front is cause for concern as well. There are going to be games where DA is in foul trouble and Dario or Frank have to play extended minutes. If they're playing extended minutes against the likes of AD, Jokic, Nurk/Kanter, Gobert we're probably in trouble. If we think we can get away with Crowder or Craig at the 5, well....

We've seen in past playoffs our 3-D guys be taken out of their comfort zones. Guys like Q and Raja were both run off the line and weren't as effective playing off the dribble. I think that's less of a concern with guys like Bridges and Cam Johnson, who have both proven they put the ball on the floor and still be a scoring threat. Crowder and Craig, not so much. Payne could be a guy who breaks out and wins us a series, or could be swallowed up - you just don't know.

Regarding the younger guys on the team and lack of playoff experience, I'm not generally concerned about that because even tho Bridges and Cam are 2nd and 3rd year players, they have such good college experience that I don't think they'll be as overwhelmed as maybe a typical 19-20yr old seeing the playoffs for the first time. It'll be an adjustment for them for sure, but they showed a lot in the bubble with the pressure on to win all those games. If we were reliant on Jalen Smith heading into the postseason - different story.

I won't stress if we're "only" a 2nd round team, tho I do think WCFs are possible. I really like this team, their style of play, the attitude and demeanor and leadership. I think the style of play is sustainable and we've got a hell of a core if we can keep them together.
I like the fact that the team can win, and has won, in multiple ways this year. Hitting tons of threes at a high level, or playing to emphasize the midrange. Shootouts and ugly defensive struggles. Games dominated by the starters and others by the bench. I think it will be difficult for an opponent to consistently take away everything, since there are a number of things the team can do well. We've seen what happens with a team that's incredibly good at one thing (like the D'Antoni/Nash era Suns) when they run into that one opponent that has the personnel and strategy to gum up that thing and make it less effective (like the Spurs consistently did). So I'm hopeful this team won't be easily gameplanned out of existence; but again, it's also a coaching staff that's dealing with higher expectations than it's seen before. So there's no good way to know.

I really hope they end up making a good run, but I'm not incredibly disappointed if it doesn't end in the WCF or the finals. Regardless of what happens next, this season can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Last year was about un-fucking-up a franchise that had been on the skids for most of a decade; this year can be about seeing who and what can (and can't) be part of the next level.
Well said here, too.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Charlie Smithy! »

At this point, I wonder if we should even watch the playoffs. 😂😅

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by pickle »

ShelC wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:08 am

We've seen in past playoffs our 3-D guys be taken out of their comfort zones. Guys like Q and Raja were both run off the line and weren't as effective playing off the dribble. I think that's less of a concern with guys like Bridges and Cam Johnson, who have both proven they put the ball on the floor and still be a scoring threat. Crowder and Craig, not so much. Payne could be a guy who breaks out and wins us a series, or could be swallowed up - you just don't know.
Feels like a little bit of the OKC day Reggie Jackson scenario, only with good chemistry. I'm rooting for Payne to improve and be a long term 6th man / first guard off bench type. Not sure he can take over the reigns from CP3 in 2 years, but he's definitely a keeper and I'm happy that we were able to get him for free, to make up for some of our draft blunders.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Flagrant Fowl »

I think the Suns will have to chose between Carter and Payne next season because Payne is severely underpaid right now, and I don't see how they can keep two back up point guards each at around $4M a year, which is probably the floor for Payne's next deal.
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Split T »

Well I choose Payne
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pickle
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by pickle »

Carter is the backup 2... FWIW...

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by pickle »

Also, I'm curious how much it'll cost to keep Craig next year. He's gotta be worth at least Carter money on a 2-3 year deal, no?

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Indy »

pickle wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:12 pm
Also, I'm curious how much it'll cost to keep Craig next year. He's gotta be worth at least Carter money on a 2-3 year deal, no?
probably at least that depending on how he does in the playoffs.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by INFORMER »

ShelC wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:08 am
We've seen in past playoffs our 3-D guys be taken out of their comfort zones. Guys like Q and Raja were both run off the line and weren't as effective playing off the dribble.
I think that was true of Q, but not Raja. There may have been a game here or there where teams were able freeze him out, but not consistently. Q on the other hand...
ShelC wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:08 am
Payne could be a guy who breaks out and wins us a series, or could be swallowed up - you just don't know.
I feel like we know. You're describing 2010 Dragic v. Spurs, and I don't think Payne has that in him. He might be able to pull that off in a single game, but a series? I don't think so.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by INFORMER »

Flagrant Fowl wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:45 pm
I think the Suns will have to chose between Carter and Payne next season because Payne is severely underpaid right now, and I don't see how they can keep two back up point guards each at around $4M a year, which is probably the floor for Payne's next deal.
I don't think there is much to think about that with that "choice."
pickle wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:06 pm
Carter is the backup 2... FWIW...
Agreed.

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Mori Chu
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Mori Chu »

More likely we'll keep both Payne and Carter and jettison Moore and Galloway.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by wpmiller42 »

Mori Chu wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 1:50 pm
More likely we'll keep both Payne and Carter and jettison Moore and Galloway.
I'm surprised Galloway doesn't get more time; I think he's done pretty well everytime I've seen him on the court.

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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Superbone »

wpmiller42 wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 2:05 pm
Mori Chu wrote:
Sun May 02, 2021 1:50 pm
More likely we'll keep both Payne and Carter and jettison Moore and Galloway.
I'm surprised Galloway doesn't get more time; I think he's done pretty well everytime I've seen him on the court.
I didn't recognize him in garbage time against the Jazz. He got a short haircut. And it has been a looong time since Moore has played. I do wonder if he'll get action tonight if Payne is out. He's the closest thing we have to a backup backup PG.
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Re: Game Day: Rockets (14-39) @ Suns (37-15), Mon 4/12/21

Post by Flagrant Fowl »

I'm still holding out hope Galloway has a spark of a moment in the playoffs where he hits a few shots the opponent didn't see coming and the collective NBA world scratches their head. Then he'll go back to the bench to never be heard from again this season.

He can shoot, but he doesn't really do anything else well. That doesn't jive with the bench unit when they have enough scoring but need rebounding and defense.
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