Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sprint to the finish line

Last night's game against the Clippers was X-rated. There are wins, there are blowouts and there are X-rated affairs like last night.

It was enjoyable to see the Suns running and gunning again. Dropping a 140 spot on the hapless Clippers was a nice way to open the stretch run and hopefully send a message to the Western conference. At this point no one is picking Phoenix to do anything. B-Ball analysts are gloating for picking against the Suns and dissing Steve Kerr and Robert Sarver like they are Dumb and Dumber.

At this point, I can't help but think about the season preview:

So my theme for this season is Die Hard. This season is for the Die Hard fans. The folks who'll keep rooting for the Suns through it all and who'll love it the most when we get that first ring. Hopefully the Suns will show some John McClane perseverance through all the challenges this season. Hopefully the Phoenix Suns will be the team that's the hardest to finish off. If they can do that, regardless of when the season ends- we'll be inspired.

We need this team to run, we need them to play loose and crazy, we need them to be who they are. As much as people hated the Shaq trade, I hope his energy and leadership really shine through down the stretch. After he was the star of All Star weekend, Shaq is rejuvenated for one last run to glory. In a hilarious appearance on NBA TV last night (if you're missing Fan Night on Tuesday, you are really missing out) he said at best they can finish 26-5 at worst 22-9. That may be good enough to nab homecourt in the first round. So far it's 1-0 and with Zach Randolph getting himself suspended, it should be 2-0 after tonight a rematch with the Clippers.

Three thoughts...
The talking heads are doubting the return of Seven Seconds or Less (SSOL) because the Suns have lost shooters. I like the approach they used last night. Run for layups. They scored 90 points in the paint. The Clippers scored 100 total. With the finishers they have on this team, they can run for layups and midrange shots and be just as effective. Amare didn't take a jumper from what I remember. Plus J-Rich, LB and Nash can shoot and Barnes will break out of his funk at some point.

The bench has to give the Suns something if they are going to avoid burnout. Nash is the motor here and there has to be some playmaking when he takes a seat. It's almost better that they haven't been running all season as they may be peaking when the playoffs start. I hope last night was a building block for Dragic. Getting into the lane puts a lot more pressure on defense than dribble, dribble, start the offense. He was playing not to make mistakes because Porter had him on a short leash. Last night, he wasn't hesitating and pounced on opportunities including a monster dunk. We know what to expect from Amundson, LB and even Barnes at this point. Dragic is a wild card but we've seen players confidence grow in this system before, let's hope it happens again.

Besides the Lakers at 1, no other spots in the West are locks. New Orleans is playing slower and just traded Tyson Chandler. Houston just lost McGrady for the year. Portland is young. Dallas is old. San Antonio is not as solid defensively. Utah is still missing Boozer and Kirilenko and they're awful on the road. LA and Denver have a few warts too. There are opportunities to be had, let's see if Phoenix can rise in the standings.

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At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pleased by the report that the Suns are trying to trade Shaq to Cleveland, but who would man the paint if he left? Unless they get Ben Wallace, it would be back to the old Amare-at-center nonsense. --Josh

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Hersey said...

Sarver turned that trade down. Apparently Cleveland really wanted Shaq. I'm glad they didn't make a move. Give this roster a chance to sort it out. There's enough talent to make a run for a playoff spot and possibly make noise

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