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Nets face Suns to begin the road trip

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Get ready to run
Get ready to run
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets completed their four game homestand with a 104-96 win over the Orlando Magic. The Nets ended the homestand at 3-1 and will be on the West Coast this week.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Phoenix Suns. The Suns bounced back with an impressive win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday evening after back-to-back losses. Last year the Suns shocked a ton of people and barely missed making the playoffs. This year, with some new additions and the core of the roster still intact, Phoenix hopes to make their first playoff appearance since the 2010 Western Conference Finals.

Where to follow the game

For the television watching portion of the audience, the game will be airing on the YES Network. On the radio side of things, you can catch the game on WFAN 101.9 FM. Tip off is at 9:30 Eastern time.


Both teams have a clean bill of health.

The game

Even with the win on Sunday, all wasn't well for the Nets. After the game, it sounded as if Joe Johnson was upset with the team's relatively poor play and the fact that the game was closer than it should have been. And when you think about it, he's got a point. For a team that wants to make the playoffs, you have to be able to put teams away when the opportunity presents itself. You don't want to be eye-to-eye with scrubs late in the game. That's how you end up losing games you're not supposed to.

Brook Lopez had a pretty hit or miss debut week in his return from injury. He played well against Oklahoma City and New York, but had his struggles against Minnesota and Orlando. This was to be expected as Brook didn't get the chance to work off the rust in the preseason. Lionel Hollins has stated on multiple occasions that he expects a lot from Brook, and so far at least, is holding him to that. Miles Plumlee will look to keep Brook confounded this Wednesday evening. If he's able to get that done, Brook will find himself on the bench if the game is close late.

Like the Magic & T'wolves before them, the Suns are a young roster that plays at a faster pace than Brooklyn. The Suns average 98 possessions a game, good for sixth best in the NBA. With Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, our old friend Gerald Green and others, Phoenix has a variety of capable options on offense. The offense is off to a slow start compared to their results from last year, but that should change as the season progresses. Dave King over at Bright Side of the Sun explored this issue and wrote:

Maybe we expected to see a much more fluid offense this year than last year. Maybe we didn't see the warts last year as clearly as we are seeing them this year. Last year's team was only 8th in points per 100 possessions and was just as focused as this year's on pull ups, drives and kick-outs.

Once the threes start falling like they're going to (36.5% the last three games vs. 33% for all seven combined), and the sample size gets bigger, the Suns will be right back up there on offense. This team is tracking to be just about as good - maybe a little better, maybe a little worse - than last year while they continue to grow and gain experience.

When the Suns signed Thomas in the offseason, I was a little unsure as to if the move would work out. So far at least, that signing is looking like a steal. Coming off the bench, Thomas is averaging a team high 16.9 points with four assists a game while shooting a career high 47.6 percent from the field. The Suns have only played the three star guards on the court at the same time for 14 minutes thus far, but they present an intriguing option if Jeff Hornacek chooses to go that route.

It's also a family affair in Phoenix. We've got the Plumlee brothers, the Morris twins, and the Dragic brothers. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another instance where three pairs of brothers appeared in the same game.

Player to watch: Eric Bledsoe

Bledsoe was always a solid player in Los Angeles as Chris Paul's backup, but since he joined Phoenix, he has become even better. He looked as if he was on his way to a possible All Star game appearance, but injuries prevented that from happening. Despite that, he still had a career year and was rewarded with a $70 million contract. Bledsoe is a very quick guard that loves to drive to the rim and is one of the best at it (Bledsoe drives to the rim eight times a night and gets five points per game while doing so). He's only shooting 30.6 percent on his jump shots so look for the Nets to play off of him so he doesn't beat them off the dribble.

The guard matchup between Bledsoe and Deron Williams should be highly enjoyable. Williams is finally healthy and it shows. Deron has been bullying smaller guards in post up situations and has been much more assertive in getting to the rim as compared to last season. Bledsoe represents a better challenge for Williams than the guards he faced last week. Williams is listed as outweighing Bledsoe by 20 pounds but Bledsoe is very strong for his position.

From the Vault

Kevin Garnett and Amar'e Stoudemire matched up in Brooklyn last Friday. Head on back to January 2005 and see them at their peaks.

More reading: Bright Side Of The Sun