- This is the first time the Kings play the Suns since coach Rick Adelman was shown the door by the Maloofs. For the record, Adelman had a sterling coaching career leading the Trailblazers to NBA Finals twice and the Kings to 8 successive playoff berths. But the Maloofs wanted to see a change at the helm and brought in the more defensive-minded Eric Musselman.
- The Kings have been an offense oriented team as long as they were coached by Adelman. Its going to be interesting to watch how Musselman makes the best use of Artest to make the Kings into a tighter defensive unit
- Mike Bibby supposedly worked his ass off this off-season to knock a few pounds off his frame. Experts are predicting he's going to have a career year. This being his contract year, I'm sure he's going to step his game up a notch as well. He does have a player option for the next 2 years but if he will be 29 at the end of this season. Now might be the time for him to raise his stock and get a good long term deal. Watch out for the new Bibby. I really like Bibby and hope he makes his first All Star appearance this year.
There's quite a tussle among the Kings for playing time.
- With Bonzi Wells gone, Kevin Martin is likely to see quite some PT at the SG/swingman spot. His clutch play during last year's playoffs against the Spurs won't hurt his chances as well.
- Shareef Abdur Rahim (who, last year, was in the playoffs for the first time in his 10 year career) and Kenny Thomas are slugging it out for the PF slot. Can you believe they actually threw punches at each other during training camp recently?
- So one thing is sure. Both these guys will really go at it today, as the fight for PT continues.
The Suns will try to put behind their loss to the Clippers a few days back with a strong showing today.
- The last time these 2 teams met each other - which was last season - the Suns shot an unbelievable 71.1% in the second half and 80% in the 4th quarter to stave off a comeback attempt by the Kings, to win 123-110.
- Also, watch out for Marcus Banks tonight. All eyes are on him, because the chances of having a rested Steve Nash during the playoffs rest squarely on his shoulder. Hopefully he shows signs of being able to play significant minutes for the Suns without being a liability at the point.
- Of course, for most Suns fans Amare will be the focal point of today's game - he had a strong showing in the game against the Lakers with 15 pts, 9rb, 5 st but looked pretty out of place in the loss against the Clippers .
My prediction - A close win for the Suns.