Chucky Atkins and Tierre Brown vs Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa:
Another tough matchup for the Lakers. Chucky has yet to do anything other than be average. We are going to need a lot more out of him, since he is going to be our starting PG, he is playing like a backup PG, at best. We face one of the quickest, flashiest, PGs in the West. Nash loves to get out and run and can be an offensive threat, not to mention that he does a great job of getting Amare, JJ, Richardson, and Marion the ball. So, a backup PG against Nash...should be interesting, to say the least. Nash will win this matchup and could probably do it in a quarter. And coming in behind him is Barbosa, who had a very solid season last year, he can really put up the numbers for the Suns, if given the playing time. I would expect for Tierre to get a lot of time tonight, especially after tearing apart the Clippers like they were practice dummies. Brown once claimed that he thought he could get by anyone and it looked that away against the Clippers, he is just that fast, and knows how to get to the basket whenever he wants. He has also done a great job of distributing the ball, especially from under the basket. He and Bobitt really play well together, so I would hope for Rudy to play them together, like he has been doing. Brown is out backup point guard, unless we see a miraculous remainder of the pre-season from Bobbitt or Sasha, which isn't likely. I think Brown can hold his own against Leo and stop him from getting on a scoring rampage. The backup matchup should prove to be better than the starting one. I would also expect for Rudy to give Sasha and Bobbitt minutes at the point, but Bobbitt will be playing primarily at the two guard with Brown, and Sasha will probably get around the amount of playing time that he got against the Clippers.
Kobe Bryant vs Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson:
Kobe has been Kobe. I think that's the best way to describe his performances this pre-season. He has been our best player, no surprise, he has been logging in big minutes, putting up some big numbers, attacking the basket, exciting fans with some high flying dunks, passing it some (even though he has been getting turnovers because the recipient of the pass isn't ready for it), getting rebounds, and playing D. He has his work cut out for him tonight, he is going against two players than can start on almost any team. So, one starter against two, seems tiring, huh? Q-Rich has been doing quite well for them, shooting, scoring, and rebounding the ball, he has been nothing but a great pickup for them. JJ has been solid for them too, in his reduced role, doing what he did last year, just less of it, due to the fact that he has to split time with Richardson. As good as Kobe is, this is a battle he just can't win. 2-1 is almost an impossible task to overcome. Kobe will get his we all know this, but he won't be able to stop this duo. I don't think they have a great chance of stopping Kobe though, he is just too good and too determined to get his points, and neither of these Suns are the best defenders. Jones will see some minutes against this backcourt and so will Bobbitt, since he is a strong and big.
Lamar Odom vs Shawn Marion:
the two Olympians go head to head. Marion has had a good pre-season, but nothing spectacular. Well, that's a lot more than we can say for Lamar. Kobe's Pippen has been more like Kobe's Scott Burrelll. He just hasn't been there, I don't know whether he is still tired from the Olympics or he hasn't adjusted to Rudy T's offense or if he just isn't used to playing for the Lakers yet. He has had a couple of good rebounding games, some solid defensive performances, but for the most part he is not what he is expecting of himself, what Rudy is expecting out of him, what the Lakers are expecting out of him, or what the fans are expecting out of him. He is going to be this team's second best scorer, the second fiddle, but he is more like our 5th best player right now. What is really lacking still is his shot, he just can't get the ball at the right time or a good look at the basket. Both players are similar in the way they play, Marion is a little more flashy, but their numbers are very similar. Both are long players that do a little of it all, provide their team with rebounds, blocks, points, assists, and a solid game night in and night out. Odom is taller and longer, but not much bulkier, in fact based on height, Marion is the bulkier player. I expect Marion to win this matchup, just because he has been playing better, and Odom has been struggling. We are all hoping that he will have a breakout game and snap out of his funk, but this just isn't the game I expect him to do it in. Also, Caron might play, unlikely but possible. If he does I wouldn't expect miracles out of him, since he has a hurt pinky. A sub-par night, would be expected. Luke is scheuled to play, so with Jones playing behind Kobe, Luke will see some minutes at the SF.
Brian Grant and Brian Cook vs Amare Stoudamire:
This is going to be the first real challenge that our front court has faced, a challenge that we won't likely be able to stop. Amare is one of the best PF's in the game, the only positive for us is that he is fighting the flu, so he will be tired, and won't play as many minutes and the Suns would like for him to play. We need Grant to play against him, rather than Odom. Grant is a better banger and defender against a player such as Amare. BG hasn't seen a whole lot of action in these pre-season games, usually under 20 minutes, but tonight I think he will see more minutes, especially since Caron will see limited action (meaning Odom has to play the 3), if any action, due to a torn tendon in his pinky. We need Grant to be there for us tonight and play like he likes to play and how we know he can play. He is one of the best hustle players we have, despite his age and his less than great knees, he gives it 110% whenever he steps on the court. He is a solid inside presence that can get after loose balls and can score down low, this is what we need. Amare will have to work on D and this will hopefully tire him out even more. Grant is also a big enough body to bother Amare on defense. I don't think we have anyone that can stop Amare, not even if we stick a couple of guys on him; he is too young, too athletic, too powerfol, too strong, and just too good. Amare is just going to give our offense fits, I think we might as well realize this, let him do his thing, and worry about stopping their guards, which is easier said that done. Cook will also get his minutes tonight, he has been very good this pre-season too. He has been nailing his 3 pointers, like they were layups, he has been athletic on both ends, rebounding the ball, blocking shots, just showing up in every aspect. He will likely play against Lampe and Zarko, neither have been consistent this pre-season. Both have been shooting and both have been going after the ball, so this should be interesting to see how Cook does against them, because I seriously doubt he will see 1 second of play against Amare.
Chris Mihm vs Jake Voskuhl:
Chris has yet to have a bad game this pre-season, I don't expect this to be any different. Hopefully he still has some of that fire that we saw against the Clippers. We saw a player that rarely shows emotion get tossed, if he can channel that fire to his game, then that would only make him that much better. Jake is a quick, center, but isn't that big, in fact Mihm is taller and stronger than Jake. Mihm has been playing all out, rebounding, hustling, going after rebounds, swatting shots away, making his shots, basically doing anything and everything he can on both ends. He catches a break on defense tonight, because some of the two pre-season players that we released today, Dupree and Yankee have more offensive skill than Jake. This means that he can help Brian out on defense, because we are going to need all the help that we can get against Amare, the best big man we have faced this pre-season. I expect a double double from Chis tonight, he is going to use his height and weight advantange in battling for position and getting rebounds over Jake. And Jake is a quick, decent defender, but nothing better than what Chris has already faced and done well against in this pre-season. This is one of our brightest spots against their worst starting player. Also, their backup center is not very skilled either, Hunter has been cut by the Cavs, that doesn't say much for him. He is young and athletic, it ends there. Nwanko can even hold his own against him.