The Suns ran through a full practice for the first time in almost two weeks. It’s only the second full practice since the acquisition of Stromile Swift on March 4.
With only 15 games remaining, the Suns only have one set of back-to-back games left this season. After hosting the Jazz on March 25, they fly up to Portland to do battle with the Blazers the next night.
The scheduling boon doesn’t seem to make much a difference to Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry, who noted the effectiveness of center Shaquille O’Neal in his last back-to-back last Saturday and Sunday. On the second night of the back-to-back against the Warriors, O’Neal scored 26 on 11-of-13 shooting from the field.
The Mavs, who the Suns are competing against for the eighth and final spot in the West’s playoff race, play their last set of back-to-back contests this week when they visit the Hawks on Thursday and then face the Pacers in Indiana on Friday.
On the Sixers
“They are really, really athletic when you look at (Andre) Iguodala and (Thaddeus) Young,” Gentry said. “They’re also a team that if you turn the ball over in transition they’ll just run it down your throat.”
Gentry said that the key would be to contain point guard Andre Miller, who is the engine of their offense.
On Why Zones Don’t Work As Well in the NBA
“You can’t plug up the lane and that’s what zones are,” Gentry said. “You can only be in the lane for three seconds so your big guys are always trying to get in and out. That still opens up a lot of driving lanes.
“Plus there’s always shooters on the floor in the NBA. It (the zone) works in college because sometimes there are only two shooters out of the five players that you have out there. In the NBA you probably have three or four shooters out there. It’s tough covering the corners, getting the wings covered and trying to take the ball out of the inside.”
Leandro Barbosa, who has been playing with a strained abdominal muscle, is playing through his pain despite the aggravation.
“It’s easy to play when you’re going good,” Gentry remarked about Barbosa. On Saturday, he scored a team-high 22 against the Thunder on Saturday before adding another 21 points the next night against the Warriors.
Gentry’s Final Four Predictions
“I don’t care what happens as long as Kansas is there,” he said. “I think North Carolina is the most talented team, but when you’re talking about one game for 40 minutes, anything can happen. I think there’s been a ton of time where the best team in the country hasn’t won the national championship.”
When Gentry was an assistant at Kansas, the Jayhawks were a seventh seed that was 18-11 when they entered the tournament – but ended up winning the whole thing under the stellar play of former Sun Danny Manning.
When told that Grant Hill was singing Duke’s praises earlier in the day, Gentry brought up their record against North Carolina.
“They haven’t beaten them since I think he (Hill) was in eighth grade,” Gentry joked. “I don’t think (Tyler) Hansbrough has ever lost to them at Durham (at Duke). That says a lot.”
On Jared Dudley
“I don’t really judge a guy on whether he’s making shots or whether he’s not making shots,” Gentry noted. “I don’t know if he’s ever played a bad game for us. He does so many things for us.”