Phoenix Suns fans roll into this Black Friday game against the Los Angeles Clippers with far less confidence than a game against the three-win cellar dwellers of the Western Conference would normally inspire. The Clips are sporting a two-game win streak with victories over the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Hornets while the Suns are fresh from Wednesday's double-overtime gut punch loss to the Chicago Bulls. Phoenix has now lost four of their last five games.
The Clippers still should provide the Suns with an opportunity to "get right." They are missing three of their veteran players due to injury (Chris Kaman, ankle; Randy Foye, hamstring; Baron Davis, whatever) and are starting what SB Nation's Clippers blog Clips Nation calls their "U23" lineup.
Los Angeles will likely start three rookies (Blake Griffin, Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu) and two second-year players (Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan). It's a talented lineup that can win games and give the Suns fits despite having played last night at home.
The key to the Clippers offense is the two-man game between Gordon and Griffin. They run a lot of pick-and-roll action for their extremely talented and explosive power forward. Griffin will also get the ball in isolation in the post with his back to the basket and at the elbow facing up. Griffin posted 25 points and 15 rebounds against the Kings front line of DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, and Carl Landry. He will be licking his chops to go against the Suns' undersized combination of Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick.
Griffin's ability to pass the ball makes him even more dangerous. When the Suns bring help defenders, and they will have to, Blake is adapt at finding open teammates in traffic. Griffin's 2.4 assists per game average is higher than anything Amare Stoudemire has posted in his career.
The Suns will still be forced to rotate hard and fast and pack the lane and try and force the Clippers to hit outside shots. The big advantage for Phoenix is the bench, although the Suns haven't got the needed production out of Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley these past few games. Losing Robin Lopez to injury, which moved Channing Frye into the starting lineup, could be impacting the spacing and opportunities for Goran to get into the lane. Alvin Gentry has countered by trying to get Hedo Turkoglu on the floor more with the second unit, but so far, it's not worked.
The game tips at 7:00 p.m Arizona Time (9:00 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast locally on Fox Sports Arizona and Sports 620 KTAR radio. SB Nation's Suns blog Bright Side of the Suns will have a live game thread for online companion discussion.