After the way that the Phoenix Suns started the 2013-14 NBA season, playing way above expectations, the prevailing belief was that they might start to trail off as the year wore on. When Eric Bledsoe went down with an injury, the Suns’ regression to the mean seemed inevitable rather than the most likely scenario that was going to play.
Though the Suns haven’t been nearly the force that they were to start the year with Bledsoe out of the lineup, they have been able to maintain a high-level of play better than expected. Their solid play without Bledsoe was never more evident than on Wednesday night when the welcomed the league-leading Indiana Pacers to town and ran them into the ground.
Thanks to big nights from Gerald Green, Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris, all of whom notched 20 or more points on the night, the Suns blew out the Pacers by a score of 124-100. Even without Bledsoe, the Suns were able to control the pace of the game, playing much more up-tempo than Indiana likes to and is comfortable playing at.
The Suns’ ability to control the pace of games like this one against Indiana has really been one of their strong suits this season. With solid shooters on the wings and a roster full of guys that can run the floor, playing at a fast-pace helps force opponents to commit more turnovers and get the Suns good looks in transition. That’s a formula for success with Bledsoe healthy, but it’s their lifeblood with him sidelined.
When you talk about the Suns, you can’t stress enough how fantastic first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek has been for them. He’s recognized what he has in this team and has coached to that rather than trying to make his players adjust. He’s adjusted to playing without Bledsoe quite deftly also. The Suns could still fall off going forward, but they deserve a ton of credit for their solid play and perseverance.