Coming into this year, Phoenix's Las Vegas betting line for total wins stood at 43. That's barely enough to squeak into the playoffs. This was largely since Amare Stoudemire is out with a leg injury until the All-Star Break. With him, Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson gone, who'd think that the Suns could start off 13-6, and that they'd be competing against the LA Clippers?.Some things they're doing just as well as last year. Scoring is down by 6.
5 points at 103.9 PPG, yet they're still leading the league in scoring. Steve Nash at 10.6 APG and 18.5 PPG is having a strong MVP campaign. Passing is the biggest key to chemistry, which is why this team is doing so well.
Phoenix is leading the NBA in assists, something they did last year on route to the best record.One thing that's different is the roster. Kurt Thomas and Brian Grant have had less playing time than originally thought. When they do have to come in, the game definitely slows down. With no Amare Stoudemire, there isn't as much slashing to the hoop. As such, they attempt easily the least free throws in the league.
With Johnson (2nd in 3P% last year) and Richardson (most 3's made last year) gone, the Suns haven't been able to dish it out for a 3 like they did last year.Players have been stepping up for Phoenix. Boris Diaw at 6-6 has been a utility player for the Suns, playing as big a position as Center.
James Jones has elevated his game beyond the plain 3-pt shooter he was last year. Eddie House is instant offense for a team barely needs it. Raja Bell has filled in nicely for Quentin Richardson and is easily a better defender.Stoudemire is scheduled to return in late February, but by looking at Phoenix's record, you'd think he was still with them. This is still the team to win the Pacific division and getting Amare back should give them a 50-win season for sure. Who'd imagine it, but Steve Nash without Amare is up there for the division and might have a better MVP case this year than last year..Our expertise is on writing articles on sports handicapping and provide winning free picks.
By: David Pincus