Czar’s Midseason Review


Gameday Dish: Pacific Division Rivals Suns vs. Warriors

I hear a certain pro contest set to take place somewhere in Ohio tonight is causing quite a stir.  Something about a Florida team, some eighth-year pro, hard feelings, high drama …

Well, while Cleveland pursues a collective catharsis out East, here in the Bay Area the Warriors and coach Keith Smart will welcome Alvin Gentry’s Suns for a Pacific Division matchup. And neither side is taking a ‘cavalier’ approach to this first meeting of the 2010-11 season.

Though the postseason is a ways out, it looks like both teams could very well be among those fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the West based on their current conference standings.

Phoenix last played on Sunday when they lost to the host Denver Nuggets 138-133 in the highest scoring game this season in the NBA. Golden State is also coming off of a defeat. They were bested 118-98 by the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.

However, Golden State had a few bright spots in the lopsided affair to hearten their outlook heading into tonight’s battle. Steph Curry scored 32, and David Lee had 18 points and 7 boards in his second game back after missing an 8-game stretch with an elbow infection, during which time the Warriors went 1-7.

The last regular season meeting between these two squads was on March 22nd with Phoenix winning 133-131 in Oakland. During the 2010 season, the Warriors lost 3 of 4 against the Suns, and have lost 8 of the last 10 overall.

Phoenix ranks first in the league in points per game at 109.4.  But the flip side of that coin is points allowed at 111.9, which is 30th and last overall in the NBA. Either way you add it up, this evening’s competition should be a high-scoring one.

Golden State’s young guns Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis will face Phoenix’s veteran backcourt comprised of Steve Nash and Jason Richardson, who spent his first six years in the league playing for Golden State. Curry and Ellis are averaging a combined total of 45 ppg, while Richardson and Nash are combining for 40 ppg.

Part II of tonight’s double-header on TNT gets underway at 10:30 PM ET. Lebron’s hyped-up Heat vs. Cavs homecoming match is sure to get your blood boiling, so stay tuned to the Suns-Warriors afterwards for an up-tempo cool-down brought to you by Kevin Harlan and the Czar.

Czar Asks You

A lot of people thought after Blake Griffin that last year’s was a shallow draft class.  But the freshman pool has proven deep and 40 games in, it looks like this may go down as one of the top drafts for guards in NBA history.

We have Tyreke Evans in Sacramento threatening to work his way into the 20/5/5 club — the current three members of that club: the Big O, Jordan and LeBron — doesn’t get any more exclusive than that.

Last night I had the chance to see Evans’ fellow Rookie of the Month Brandon Jennings in action against the Nets and a couple of things come to mind:  incredible speed and quite a haircut. Back in the eighties I managed to grow a couple inches thanks to my ‘do as well.  Jennings went for 55 points earlier in the season usurping LeBron as the youngest player ever to do so. A lot of teams will be kicking themselves for years for letting this guy slip. He has the quickness and vision to break down a defense along with a surprising jump shot.

When the Wolves took Jonny Flynn sixth in last year’s draft it raised a few eyebrows after taking Ricky Rubio the pick before. Well that selection is looking pretty good now with Flynn averaging 14 ppg and 4 assists — and along with Jefferson, Love and Brewer forming a promising core in Minnesota. Now they have to figure out what to do with Rubio and all the cap room next year.

On draft night Stephen Curry thought he was going to join Rubio in Minnesota, but ended up going one pick later to Golden State. He’s shooting 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from the arc this season. In Tuesday’s game against Denver, he hit six consecutive 3-pointers en route to 26 points. I like Curry’s game and his demeanor on the court; he’s going to do his dad proud in this league.

And finally don’t overlook hard working, hard playing Taj Gibson.  Back in the Bull’s starting lineup, he’s improving day by day and could be a sleeper in the Rookie of the Year race.

I anticipate a photo finish.  Who do you like for Rookie of the Year?