Suns.com Round Table: 2013-14 Schedule
Which opponent on the 2013-14 schedule are you most looking forward to seeing at US Airways Center?
Greg Esposito: For me it has to be Houston on February 23. As a child of the ‘90s I’ve always had a special place in the darkest portion of my heart for the Rockets. It’ll be interesting to see if the newly minted “Rocket Man” Dwight Howard fits in with Jeremy Lin and more importantly James Harden, how their offense will flow and if one of the NBA’s greatest big men of all-time, Head Coach Kevin McHale, can get the most out of his newest center.
As long as no one hits a last second shot and gives the hometown crowd at USAC the Mario Elie-esque “Kiss of Death”, it should be a good show.
Brad Faye: I’m really interested in seeing how the San Antonio Spurs respond after dropping those last two games in the 2013 NBA Finals. From an entertainment standpoint, however, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun watching Jeff Hornacek’s team run up and down the court with teams like the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. And let’s not forget ballclubs like Chicago and Oklahoma City, both of whom will see the return of All-Star playmakers that were unable to finish last year’s campaign with their respected team.
Matt Petersen: The Clippers for a multitude of reasons. L.A. is fast-paced, which will play exactly into what head coach Jeff Hornacek wants the Suns to do, so it should be one of the most entertaining games of the season. You’ve got the potential for an Eric Bledsoe this-proves-I-was-held-back-when-I-played-for-you performance against his old team. Finally, there’s the expected warm welcome for Jared Dudley, one of the most appreciated players in recent Suns history. Plenty to look forward to.
What stretch on the 2013-14 schedule most concerns you?
Espo: In order to have a good season the new look Suns will need to get off to a faster start than the Lone Ranger was out of theaters. That makes the stretch from November 3-15 key. It includes road games versus the Thunder, Pelicans, Spurs and Blazers as well as home games versus the Nuggets, Pelicans and Nets. It’s a brutal run that starts just three games into the year and the kind of gauntlet that can set the tone for the rest of the schedule. If the Suns surprise a few of the league’s top teams it could go a long way to setting the winning tone new Head Coach Jeff Hornacek and new General Manager Ryan McDonough hope to build.
Faye: After a pair of home games against Memphis and Milwaukee, the Suns embark on a five-game road trip against Chicago, Minnesota, Memphis, Detroit and New York. Each of those five teams could be better than they were a year ago, and it will be interesting to see how improved Phoenix will look against those ballclubs. Each of those five teams may not be contenders, but it is those middle-of-the-pack opponents that the Suns will have to find ways to defeat this year if they want to improve on their 25-57 record from last season. Although if they can also grab the occasional win against a potential contender like Chicago and/or Memphis, I’m sure fans won’t have any complaints.
Petersen: The first month and a half will be crucial in setting the tone for this year’s team. With that in mind, the Suns play 12 of 19 games on the road from Nov. 3 through Dec. 10. That stretch features a whopping five back-to-back sets. Six of those 12 road games, however, are against non-playoff teams from a year ago, so it’s not as brutal as some road-heavy stretches could be. Phoenix has a chance to make a spirited first impression in 2013-14, but they’ll have to earn the majority of that impression on the road.
If you could choose any road trip to accompany the team, which would you choose and why?
Espo: The answer is simple. It’s not a long trip or one to a flashy city and it’s not one traveling to take on one of the top teams in the league. No, it’s on November 29 when the team heads to Salt Lake City for the first time. It’s the homecoming of Jeff Hornacek. If you thought he was a fan favorite and living legend in Phoenix, it’s tenfold in Utah. The reception he’ll get will be something special and it should be quite fun to see how he and his team react to the crowd. With any luck, they can get their new head man a big win and at least the Utah fans will feel warm and fuzzy getting to see one of their favorites hand them a defeat.
Faye: As a Brooklynite, I’m always looking forward to any opportunity to head back home. I’ve also been very interested in seeing the state-of-the-art Barclays Center that the Nets now call home. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the team revamped its roster this offseason by adding potential future Hall of Famers like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The fact that the two games that precede the contest against Brooklyn take place in Boston and Toronto is simply icing on the cake.
Petersen: Have to go with the massive five-game trip in January. Chicago (Derrick Rose), Minnesota (Rubio/Love), Memphis (Z-bo/Gasol), Detroit (Jennings/Smith) and New York (Carmelo) all have must-see-in-person stars with at least above-average venues. That kind of combination is rare enough as it is. Five games in a row? Get me a ticket yesterday.