The Suns defense against Nuggets was strong in their last meeting. It will need to be so again tonight. (Photo by Max Simbron)
You can look at this game tonight with all of the massive home court advantage implications and wonder, What if the Suns had managed to hold on to that big lead in Indiana or what if Jamal Crawford's shot doesn't fall?
52 games is beyond EVERYONE's wildest expectations so there's certainly no reason for regret and yet....
But Alvin Gentry would have none of that, "Nah. You know what, we also won some games that we probably shouldn't have and didn't play quite as well. So I never go back and say if we had just won this one or if the shot didn't go in in Atlanta or anything like that because I found out after 21 years in the NBA you pretty much are who you are. If we go back and win the Atlanta game and win Indiana or something like that we probably would have lost two other games. We pretty much are who we are. I think all the teams are."
Now, in the same vein, you look at The Trade that wasn't made. "Some of the best deals are deals you don't make," chuckled Gentry. "Everybody still doesn't understand that it wasn't us making the calls; it was everybody calling us. We didn't see anything that came that way that would have been remotely close to (Amare) so that's why he's still here. Thank God for that, by the way."
Indeed, Alvin. Indeed.
No regrets on games that could have been won. No regrets on trades that weren't done. It all comes down to this final won.
Almost final one but that didn't rhyme as well.
So for all the wobbles we see the Denver Nuggets tonight who are 0 and 10 in Phoenix since 2004.
The winner is guaranteed home court advantage in the first round, which is pretty darn important for both of these teams. Denver is 19-21 on the road while the Suns are a tad bit better at an ironic 21-19.
Of course, the Nuggets now have to win on the road to avoid having to win on the road. You've got to love it. You can't make this shit up.
Season Series: Suns 2, Nuggets 1
I will let our friends from Denver Stiffs explain this season's history since he did such a good job of it...
The record shows that the Nuggets are down 2-1 in the season series against Phoenix, but the Suns could easily have be going for the season sweep tonight. The Nuggets lone victory over the Suns came on December 12th when a tired and weary Suns team, playing the second of a back-to-back, were a Nene no-call on a Steve Nash drive away from stealing a win at Pepsi Center. The other two games - one at Denver, one at Phoenix - have been Suns walkovers.
It makes no sense to me whatsoever that the Suns have the Nuggets' number. You'd think that an aging team with little size and no bench would be a squad that the Nuggets could feast on. But that's not the case. In both of the Suns victories over the Nuggets, it's been the Suns defense of all things that has done the job, holding the Nuggets to 97 points in Denver and a mere 85 points (tying the Nuggets second-lowest scoring output of the season) in Phoenix when they last met.
Did I say, Good job? What I meant to say is that Andrew (you know I love you) really doesn't understand why the Phoenix Suns are so good this season.
We can't blame him for that, he's had plenty to worry about up in the thin mountain air. Would Melo ever return from an ankle sprain that he nursed for a long, long time?
Would When would J.R. Smith do something incredibly stupid? What kind of hair-do would Chris Andersen be sporting?
And in all seriousness, dealing with the extremely difficult situation that George Karl is going through. We love you, George! Get well soon.
The Suns have surprised a lot of people, including all of us. No one picked Phx to win 52+ games and for exactly the reasons Andrew lists. No bench. No size. Too old.
But the Suns do have a solid bench (one of the best in the league, in fact) and that bench has allowed the aging Nash and Hill to reduce their workload and be fresh as a spring breeze for the playoffs. Size issues were solved by Robin Lopez, who sadly we won't have and can't really replace.
Robin Lopez Update
Robin is limited to only doing rehab exercises. No court work. Not even any cardio, so if by some miracle he was cleared next week, he would still need time to get back in game shape. As has been said before, the Suns are not going to rush him or risk anything. They will just have to make do without.
Fortunately, even with Kenyon Martin back in the line-up and Chris Andersen likely to play (listed as probable for tonight with a finger sprain), the Nuggets don't beat you with size or length either.
The Nuggets beat you in isolation with their great players, Melo and Billups. They beat you in transition if you're not careful. Sometimes J.R. Smith will beat you (and sometime he will beat himself).
They play physical and try and bully you, but tonight they will meet the master of Bully Ball, Amare Stoudemire, who has now taken to shouting "Bully Ball!" to break huddles.
At first it was just kind of a cute thing he said but the more I think about it, the more important I see that saying to be.
What Amare is doing is very smart and a real sign of leadership. It reminds me of a story from when I was in the Army about how we used a little motivational motto like that to help overcome some rough times. You will have to buy me a beer or four to hear the rest of that tale.
By saying "Bully Ball" and getting his mates to say it with him, he's reminding himself and his team that they need to play a certain way. They need to be the aggressors and take the fight to the enemy. That's how you win playoff basketball and Amare, the wise old man that he now is, understands that.
So bully to you Amare for leaving the silly "Sun Tzu" self-proclaimed nonsense behind and demonstrating leadership the old-fashioned way.
Keys to the game
In their last meeting on March 1st, the Suns went to a zone defense in the second quarter that completely discombobulated the Nuggets. I heard Chauncy Billups mention that zone on NBA TV last night talking about this game so you know they are going to be better prepared for it. Lets hope the Suns don't need to go there.
Coach Gentry said his keys were getting back in transition and weak side rotations against their isolation plays. That and more Bully Ball. He didn't say those words but that's what he meant when he said the Suns need to play physical, playoff type basketball to win this game. Bully Ball.
See you back in a few hours. If you are not pumped for this one you are in the wrong place.
My Thoughts on Women’s Hoops
Well, the college basketball season is officially over, but I really haven’t talked much about women’s basketball. Since I was just watching the WNBA Draft the other day, let’s talk about the lady ballers. First off, I’m a big fan of basketball no matter who’s playing – women, men, young kids. Being drafted into the NBA, I know that’s a big thing for anybody to be able to go into the profession they’ve always wanted to go to. So to see the smiles on everyone’s faces when they heard their names called during the WNBA Draft was something I enjoyed.
Nicknames . . . why some work, and others are just wrong - SLC Dunk
MERCURY: Take the Mercury Pledge
Commit to attending at least one Mercury game this season and you could win a 50" flatscreen tv on April 13!
2010 NBA Playoff Tiebreakers -- NBA FanHouse
Thank goodness for Tom Ziller. All the tiebreakers for this year's playoff race, broken down playoff team by playoff team.
Top 50 2010 NBA Free Agents -- NBA FanHouse
What happens in July could dictate what happens in the NBA for the next decade. (C.J. Watson isn't available every year, OK?!) As such, you can't get ready too early. Peer deep inside FanHouse's Top 50 2010 NBA Free Agent ranking, where I sort, discuss and (yes) rank the free agents to be.
NBA.com: Presenting this season's cool kids of the NBA
Senior superlatives were a pretty big deal in high school. They were your chance to be immortalized in the yearbook forever. Or just a chance to gain cool point before prom. The NBA is like a mini high school filled with bullies, cool kids, jocks and weirdoes, so here is a slight twist on the NBA End of the Season awards, done yearbook style.
The third-greatest offense ever?| Valley of the Suns
Believe it or not, the Phoenix Suns boast the third-best offense ever thanks to Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire.
Speaking of Bully Ball, remember this?