Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns
7:00 p.m. PST
April 2, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. True or false: Goran Dragic deserves to be top five in MVP voting.
Andrew Lynch, Hardwood Paroxysm, (@AndrewLynch): False. Not as I define MVP, anyway. Dragic has that “if you take him away, Phoenix is way, way worse” perspective on MVP going for him, but he hasn’t been as productive as LeBron, Durant, Curry, Love, Griffin, CP3 or James Harden, just to name a few. He’s really, really good, though, and this season wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting without him.
Ryan Weisert, Valley of the Suns, (@Spectavius): True. It depends on how your define MVP, but regardless of semantic quibbling, during the 34-game stretch when Eric Bledsoe was out with injury, Dragic kept the Suns in the playoff hunt almost completely on his own. He averaged 22+ points and 6+ assists per game over that stretch and has continued to produce at close to that level since Bledsoe’s return. Dragic should be helped by the fact that he plays on a contending team and has stayed healthy.
Law Murray, (@1maddskillz): False. Dragic has had an outstanding season for this Suns team, which I was not expecting after last year’s Suns lost 57 games. However, after Durant, LeBron, Griffin, Noah, I’d have to put someone like Steph Curry in there. Top ten wouldn’t be a stretch for Dragic though.
2. True or false: Gerald Green is the deserving Most Improved Player.
Lynch: False. Green’s progress this year is amazing, but he’s not even the most improved player on his own team. That honor goes to Markieff Morris, who’s cut contested perimeter looks from his shot selection in favor of forays into the post. And on defense, Morris’s improvement has allowed Phoenix to experiment with lineups where Markieff is the nominal center, often alongside brother Marcus at power forward, which in turn gives the Suns all the spacing in the world on the other end.
Weisert: False. Gerald Green is still the same player he has always been. He is just getting more support and playing time than he ever has before. Green has taken more shots this season than he took in his previous two NBA seasons combined. Jeff Hornacek and the Suns have committed to letting Gerald be Gerald. He has not improved per se. He has just been given a chance to be the best version of himself.
Murray: False. Again, Green deserves any votes that come his way, and I base this on my low expectations for him after his disastrous season in Indiana. If anything, the production of pretty much every player in Phoenix this year is a credit to head coach Jeff Hornacek. He’s your Coach of the Year. But Anthony Davis should be the MIP. It’s harder to achieve All-Star status than it is to play well after being in Green’s situation.
3. If Blake Griffin plays, over/under 1.5 combined technical fouls for Griffin and P.J. Tucker.
Lynch: Over. And since I’m a gambling man, I’ll go all out and say they get tangled up and charged with offsetting double technical fouls. I love Tucker – he’s my favorite player in the league – but I’m hugely sympathetic toward Griffin. The man experiences untold basketball violence every time he takes the court, yet his reactions are limited to facial contortions and a bit of conversation here and there. Blake deserves all the credit in the world for turning the other cheek time and time again.
Weisert: Under. P.J. knows that all the eyes will be on him after his scuffle with Griffin. He is too smart a player to let whatever feelings he may hold for Griffin boil over during the game. As for Blake, he is a passive aggressive instigator. If Tucker isn’t reacting to whatever it is that Blake does to get under other players’ skin, then Blake isn’t going to overtly instigate and get himself in trouble. I see no techs for either guy.
Murray: I’m taking the under. When Griffin got into it with the Warriors on Christmas, the rematches were hotly anticipated. The January game resulted in a blowout, but no technicals. The March game had Jermaine O’Neal waiting for Griffin after the game, but Griffin didn’t get T’d up. I’m not expecting Tucker to be a goon in this one. There are more important things for the Suns to worry about, like getting a pivotal home win.