In a game the Suns should have won by 20, they ended up lucky to escape Cleveland with a win at all.
Phoenix defeated the Cavs on Tuesday night 91-78 behind a big night from Goran Dragic and an outstanding defensive effort by center Jermaine O'Neal.
The Cavaliers were without two of their top guards in Kyrie Irving and Daniel 'Boobie' Gibson, yet they still managed to give the Suns a run for their money up until the final minutes of the third quarter. Phoenix coughed up 15 turnovers in the game and allowed Anderson Varejao to look like a superstar. Varejao snagged 18 boards and dropped 20 points as one of the sole productive Cavs players.
Phoenix was forced to win ugly, but then again, that is what they will have to do all season long. They do not have the personnel to consistently blow teams out, but they are just too scrappy to be consistently blown out. It is only through effort that they will be able to hang around a .500 record.
As the worst 3-point defending team in the league, the Suns managed to shut Cleveland down from behind the arc on Tuesday. The Cavs shot just 2-15 from downtown on the way to their loss.
Something I would have liked to see the Suns do more of is attack inside. Varejao is a decent post defender, but outside of him, that is a glaring weakness the Cavaliers have. Tyler Zeller is still too young, as is Tristan Thompson.
Jermaine O'Neal and Marcin Gortat had clear advantages over their matchups, yet neither of them received adequate touches. Gortat only took 7 shots in the game (making 3 of them), when, in all likelihood, coach Alvin Gentry would have liked to see him get at least double that.
As I said, this team is going to have to continue to be gritty. It is the only way they are going to win games. But when they look as sloppy as they did last night against Cleveland, it's hard to have much faith that they are going to make the playoffs this season. I guess all we can do is stay tuned and see if they can prove me wrong.