Shaq will dunk all over Amare Stoudamire. Shaq should eliminate his presence in the post while he's in the game as well, as long as he's motivated. Shaq should go for 20-10.
Malone will cause hell for whoever they put on him. Malone's line will easily be 10 rbds and 5+ assists. Whether his shot will fallor not will dictate whether he scores 10 pts or 20 pts. You know he's getting at least 8 fts.
Payton should continue to push the ball up and set up the Lakers for easy/open shots. Payton's most important task will be to lock down Marbury and keep him from torching the Lakers like he seems to all the time.
Malone's Elbow. The keys for Malones Elbow are to home in and brown Marbury. Don't be surprised if Shaq's Elbow decides to find Hardaway.
Malone's Elbow list
Kobe. It seems like he'll play. Should he play, Marion will probably guard him. Marion offers a tough defensive stick especially for kobe who is coming off injury. Kobe doesn't have to dominate his first game back. I just hope he doesn't have a bad game. You know the fans will be all over him and the media would love to throw it in his face.
George: While I don't expect his shot to be on like it was in Dallas, Devean needs to make the defense pay when they sag off him. He's coinfident in his shot, I expect Devean to have a decent to good game of 8-14 pts and 5 rbds or so. Please Devean don't let Marion Abuse you.
Bench play: With Fisher and Rusell on the bench look for them to combine for 15-20 pts. Hopefully Walton, pargo, rush will throw in an extra 6-10 pts on top of that. Our bench is vastly improved,especially when Slava / Fox get back into the mix. Horace Grant needs to keep his defense on gear and pull down some rebounds.
Key to the game.
Shaq and Malone must outscore Amare and Marion.
Payton needs to offset Marbury.
Our bench needs to outpace their bench.
Payton, Kobe, George, Malone pushing the ball on the fast break.
Concern #1 Will Marbury go for 40? Payton should curb his offensive game tonight, but I've seen Marbury torch us one too many times, even back in his days with the hornets.
Concern #2 Will Kobe try to do too much? Shaq did have a point with that. I'd rather kobe score 10-15 pts a game and continue improving his health, then watch Kobe go for 40 and wear down his body like he did last year.
Concern #3 If Kobe has an off night, will he be prepared for the barrage from the crowd and the media? You know it will happen eventually. Here's to kobe kicking some tail.
I'll be working tonight while the game is going on. The only possible way I can get the score is to go to my co worker's car and listen on radio during my breaks, or possibly customers letting me know the score.
Prediction: Lakers 110 Suns 98
Shaq and Malone will just butcher the suns on the inside.