Phoenix at Portland -Game 4 preview

Staff Writer:  Jay Yap

The Suns secret to their past two wins over the Blazers is so stunningly simple it’ll make Forrest Gump look like a genius. On offense, the Suns run a high screen and roll and when a defender is sent to crowd Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire Nash makes a pass to a wide-open Jason Richardson. Automatic three points. After torching the Suns in Game 1, Suns coach Alvin Gentry assigned the longer and quicker Grant Hill to guard Andre Miller. Hill responded by holding Miller to 12 and 11 points in Game 2 and 3, respectively. Hill took away Miller’s post up game and drives to the basket.

It’s almost unfair to the Blazers since Miller is their only option on offense after Brandon Roy was injured before the playoffs.

Rudy Fernandez has been a complete non-factor for the Blazers. Funny considering Nash has been guarding him the whole series. Fernandez is unable to post Nash up or shoot over him. Credit this to the Suns help defense.

LaMarcus Aldridge, in my opinion, is not a worthy sidekick. He is a glorified role player – make mid-range jumpshots and shoot turnarounds. Other than that he is limited. He can’t rebound well for a man of his size and is not a great finisher or defender. Portland overpaid him last summer. I’d take Paul Milsap over Aldridge any day.

Roy’s absence has cause Portland’s offense to stall. He is the only Blazer with the ability to draw the attention of the defense and create for his teammates. Their defense is also listless. No effort to impede the Suns’ slashers and Marcus Camby’s age is causing him to rotate too late.

The Suns have maintained their explosive offense while playing improved defense. They rotate more efficiently and defend pick-and-rolls better. Having versatile players like Hill, Dudley and Louis Amundson has benefited the Suns on defense.

Jason Richardson has heated up at the right time. He is averaging 28 points per game. Stoudemire is finally playing defense and grabbing rebounds.

The Blazers are in deep trouble. Phoenix will head home with a 3-1 lead.

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