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Game 80 Preview & Thread: Rockets at Suns

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Nobody really gave the Phoenix Suns a chance this year. People predicted them to finish eighth or ninth in the West, much like how we thought the Rockets would do. Well, they're 51-28 and fighting for the second seed in the conference. I feel like they should be getting more attention as a surprise team this year, but no one really thinks they'll do well in the playoffs, so they're staying away.

The Suns have beaten the Rockets in all three meetings so far this year, a trend the Rockets will hope to stop this season. Despite Yao's "slowness," according to the media, the Rockets are usually very competitive with the Suns team, even when they run and gun.

I can't stress enough how much I pride myself on being a Rockets fan right now. They've got a great the best front office in the league, a coach who knows how to win, they'll end at least .500 without their best player, had 0 all-stars, and still give 100% every night despite being eliminated from playoff contention.

Who else is a little excited right now? Get your mind out of the gutter.

Matchups:

PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Steve Nash: 

I've made it no secret to my friends that Steve Nash is my absolute favorite player in the Association. I love this guy. Here's why:

1. He can pass accurately with his left hand as well as his right.

2. He's a scorer, yet he only does score when his team needs him to, because he's unselfish.

3. His VitaminWater commercials are hilarious. Seriously, get to youtube right now and watch this.

4. This Ali G. video

5. He makes ridiculous shots look possible. Just go to a gym a try the running right, off one foot, defender in your face three pointer. I'll wait.... See how hard that was. Nash does it almost every night.

6. He's not in Dallas anymore. Suck it Mark Cuban, ya jackass.

Advantage: Suns

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Jason Richardson:

Fact: Jason Richardson is making more money this season than Steve Nash.

Fact: both Steve Nash and Kevin Martin are better than Jason Richardson.

Advantage: Rockets

SF: Trevor Ariza vs. Grant Hill: 

Those team doctors in Phoenix sure have the magic touch. Grant Hill is playing really well with this Suns team. This season, he's averaging 11/6/2, and he just looks comfortable on the court. He's not afraid of getting hurt, and it shows in his confidence.

Now, Trevor just had one of the best games we could ask from him. 17 points, 9 boards, and 8 assists? On 7-13 shooting? Who is this guy? I suspect a let-down game tonight.

Advantage: Suns, but not by much, really

PF: Luis Scola vs. Amare Stoudemire:

Amare always kills the Rockets. Last time, he fouled out during overtime, but still finished with 36 and 11. He got to the line 12 times, which is just unacceptable. The Suns run that pick and roll with him and Nash to perfection, but the help has to come over to give Scola/Hill/Hayes help when Amare is running free in the lane looking to throw the sledgehammer.

Scola just had a bad night against the Bobcats. He was frustrated and stopped looking for his shot in the fourth quarter. We need him to be confident in his game enough that he'll still take those shots even in games like that.

Finally, the Rockets made a late play at Amare before the deadline, and Scola would have been involved. I wonder if either player will be thinking about that?

Advantage: Suns

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Jarron Collins:

Collins starts, but he's filling in for Robin Lopez, who normally starts. Then, Channing Frye usually comes off the bench. Frye has done well in that role, and he's not a true center, so the Suns still have him starting on the pine. Frye likes to hang out behind the three point line and act like a small forward, but he does get about 5 rebounds a game and is tall enough to block a shot or two a game.

Advantage: Rockets

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Bench:

Suns: Channing Frye, Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley, Louis Amundson, Earl Clark

Rockets: You know who...

Advantage: Even

Injuries:

Suns: Robin Lopez (bulging disc)

Rockets: David Andersen, Yao Ming

Prediction: Suns need it, win by 10

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