Published: December 30, 2011
In the first of our two game-day previews (something we’ll be doing all year long for home games), we’ll be using ESPN’s 3-on-3 format to get three perspectives on three different questions relating to the game. Today we welcome Mason Ginsberg to the show.
1. What should the Hornets have learned from the game these two teams played just four nights ago?
Michael McNamara: That Robin Lopez’s 2010-11 season was just an aberration. Apparently he was playing injured all year and it showed, but the guy is healthy now and as a result, the Suns have one of the top 1-2 combo of centers in the league. The Hornets have to make him a focal point of their defense and keep him from killing them down low.
Mason Ginsberg: That every player on the court needs to make a concerted effort to rebound the basketball. With the amount of three point shots that Phoenix takes, there are lots of long rebound opportunities, which makes it important that even guards do their part on the glass. In Monday night’s game, seven Hornets players grabbed at least 4 rebounds, and that’s the kind of team effort that it will take to beat the Suns.
Joe Gerrity: They should have realized that they have the potential to win games this year even if they don’t play very well. If anyone should have been ready for a short season, it’s probably the veteran led Suns. Beating them in their home opener in front of a sellout crowd was a huge confidence booster for the Hornets after a hectic preseason.
2. Would it be crazy to say that the Hornets have the advantage at PG in this match-up?
MM: Honestly… No. I have watched both games Steve Nash has played this year, and except for one four minutes stretch in the opener, he has been awful. He is basically 1:1 on his assist to turnover ratio and his defense is as bad as it has ever been. The Hornets definitely have an advantage at backup point guard, and I dare to say that I would take Jack over Nash right now as my starter.
MG: Definitely not crazy, but I still don’t believe it. Nash has struggled to start the season, but part of that has to be due to a lack of a legitimate supporting cast. As a scorer, I’ll take Jack at this point, but as a facilitator, I’m still taking Nash; the problem for him is that the guys who he’s setting up have struggled mightily thus far.
Joe: Crazy? No. Likely wrong? Yes. While Nash has been less than stellar so far, it’s hard to believe that all of a sudden his game just fell off so drastically. Jack played well last game, and I expect him to continue playing well, but it’s a little early to be considering him a superior point guard to Steve Nash. Check back in 15 games and I may change my answer.
3. What is tonight’s key to victory for the Hornets?
MM: Getting to the line and converting. The Hornets settled for too many jumpers and bad shots in the first game, and they need to be more aggressive tonight. You can get any shot you want against Phoenix, and if you take the ball to the rim, they will foul you. But that is just half the battle- the Hornets have to also convert, something they didn’t do in the first game, as they went just 13-21.
MG: Just like the Hornets were able to do on Monday night, they have to keep Phoenix from getting hot from long range. The Suns have no real interior offensive presence apart from Gortat (Robin Lopez got most of his points from mid-range jumpers), so the key to their success is knocking down shots from beyond the arc. Nash, Dudley, and Frye can all shoot it, but if the Hornets can keep the Suns around the same 3-point percentage as they did four days ago, they can absolutely win this game, even without their own top scorer.
Joe: Winning the battle up top. While Gortat, Frye and Lopez is certainly a formidable trio, the Hornets have the advantage in the big man department. With Gordon out and the Suns hungry for a win, it’s crucial that the Hornets bigs win the rebounding battle and don’t allow easy buckets inside.