The Phoenix Suns won't get any breaks early in a season that will require a lot of them to be successful. Two days after losing the season opener to the Trail Blazers in the Rose Garden, the Suns head to another one of the toughest NBA venues to snatch a road win, EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Utah Jazz are on the second night of a back-to-back, having lost 110-88 in Denver on Wednesday night, and will be looking for a victory in EnergySolutions' friendly confines, where the jazz posted a 32-9 record last season.
However, the Jazz, like the Suns, are dealing with chemistry issues, as both teams lost prominent post players this past offseason, with Amare Stoudemire heading to the Big Apple and Carlos Boozer leaving for the Windy City and promptly getting injured again. But the resilient Jazz traded for Al Jefferson and he and point guard Deron Williams have developed some cohesion during an undefeated preseason.
Phoenix's chemistry so far has bordered on atrocious, with spacing, ball distribution, and turnovers amongst the biggest issues in addition to expected flaws in defense and rebounding. In their 106-92 loss to Portland on Tuesday, the Suns committed 19 turnovers (nine by Steve Nash alone), had only 15 assists and were thoroughly outrebounded 48-30.
The preseason's poor three-point shooting, however, was stemmed -- at least temporarily. The Suns shot 47% from long range and the trend will have to continue; the team is without a true inside scoring threat and accuracy from range will be a required ingredient for success.
Robin Lopez, one of the key players for this year's team, did not play well in the season opener, tallying five points and five rebounds in 25 minutes of play. He will need to have a more consistent and significant impact going forward if the Suns hope to replicate even a portion of Stoudemire's presence in the paint, which will facilitate opportunities from behind the arc -- where Phoenix truly excels.
The Suns are on the first game of a back-to-back against potential Western conference playoff contenders, as the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers wait in Phoenix for tomorrow night's home opener.
Backup point guard Goran Dragic may be unavailable or limited tonight as he battles with a sore knee.
This is the first time since 1991 that the Suns have opened a season with two road games.