Phoenix Suns at Milwaukee Bucks — 8:30 PM eastern
The Suns have won 10 straight games, coming off a road win against the comparatively “hot” New Jersey Nets. Tonight they close their road trip in Wisconsin, and getting its 11th consecutive win should prove a challenge for Phoenix.
The Bucks have played great ball since the all-star break (although they’ve cooled down of late, going only 5-5 in their last 10) thanks to a trade-deadline acquisition of John Salmons from the Chicago Bulls. Add him to a roster with two solid young pieces in Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings, and you have a pretty solid squad.
However, Phoenix’s roster is no slouch itself. Sporting perennial all-stars Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire, the Suns’ pick-and-roll game is an incredible force to be reckoned with. Factor in Jason Richardson, Leandro Barbosa, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, and a solid second-year showing for center Robin Lopez and you can see why they’re climbing to the top of the Western Conference.
The Suns won the only matchup between these two teams 105-101 on January 11. Nash lead the Suns with a stat-stuffing effort, scoring 30 points, recording 7 rebounds, and dishing out 11 dimes. Amar’e and Richardson also chipped in 23 points apiece. Hakim Warrick, no longer on the team as part of the Salmons deal, lead the Bucks with 21, and Bogut added a double-double of 13 points and 13 boards.
The Bucks hung with the Suns then, and they’re a much better team post-trade. Accordingly, I chalk this one up for the Bucks. They’re significantly better at home, and the Suns (Nash, in particular) will be tired closing out a long road trip. Salmons should have a big scoring game against the “supervisory” Suns defense.