Tonight your Phoenix Suns travel to Utah for the regular season finale versus the Utah Jazz. As you know, this game has some significant post-season implications, and for that, check out the great Scott Howard's Western Conference Playoff Report.
Allow me to wax nostalgic though as we consider that this really is the last game of the regular season. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of this season is how quick it went. The players and coaches all talk about how fast it has all gone. And we all know the feeling of time passing so quickly-it's usually when you are enjoying yourself. The good times fly by while the misery seems to linger for an eternity. This speaks to the cast assembled by Steve Kerr and Co which has led to the astoundingly good chemistry the Phoenix Suns have, not to mention the surprising amount of wins the Suns have compiled.
I recall most vividly media day before the opening of the season. Every player was in high spirits, but none higher than one Steve Nash, who stood at the podium in front of a throng of media types like myself and at one point said simply (as he answered the question how do you feel?): "Joyous." Joyous because he had signed on for two more years as a Sun. Joyous because the coach was right, the assemblage of players, including his good friend Grant Hill, were right. Because he trusted Steve Kerr to not make any "crazy trades or coaching changes." Because he believed this team, without the distractions of Shaquille O'Neal and Terry Porter, would be a playoff contender. Because this team would play as they were designed to play-a high scoring, up tempo team. The Phoenix Suns would actually be the Phoenix Suns in 2009-10.
Apart from that, there was potential. Goran Dragic and Robin Lopez had potential to grow, learn, and become a vital part of the Suns makeup. And while Nash and others spoke highly of both players, I doubt either of them could have predicted how good they would actually become this season. There was even potential (although most of us including Nash would have never predicted it), for Amare Stoudemire to take his game to another level. Amare has and continues to take his Gorilla/Bully game to new heights.
No doubt there have been ups and downs, some very high highs and some very low lows. No reason to get into them-we all know what they are. But all of us here, contributing to the BSOTS family are no doubt very high right now. Your Phoenix Suns have made the playoffs. Rejoice, enjoy the moment, feel the joy!
Now on to the game preview
"We're playing to win, guys, we're playing to win. We're playing to win. We're not in a position to rest guys or do this or do that. We're happy to be in the playoffs and I think we owe it to all of our fans and we owe to all the players to play and win games. It's the last game we play. It means something to us so we'll approach it that way."
Get any other thoughts out of your head, people. You know what I mean.
Commentary (Hurly Burly style)
This will not be easy tonight. You read the playoff report, so you know the Jazz are coming off of a victory over the Golden State Nellies. You may have also heard that Carlos Boozer did not play in the second half due to a rib-muscle strain. But Paul Milsap filled in with 24 boards, albeit against Golden State, so Boozer's absence wasn't such a big deal. But tonight, he will certainly be needed against the Suns. At this point, I haven't heard anything about his status for tonight. He has undergone an MRI, the results have not been published yet. I wil keep you updated, but it would obviously be a boost to the Suns to have Boozer sitting this one out.
"We're going to see who's the tougher team. The good thing is it's in our building. We'll see who's tougher...This is going to be a big test for us."
You got it: the key to this game is Bully Ball. Pure and simple, who wants this more. That's the key to this game. The Suns won the last matchup 110-100 behind the Bully himself, MAX Stoudemire's 44 points. The Suns were outrebounded in the game but, they held the Jazz to 38% shooting while draining 52% of their own field goals, which offset 22 turnovers. It also helped that Deron Williams shot 4-14 and only dished out 6 assists. Deron's feeble numbers were an anomaly, and I do not expect him to replicate that performance. No way.
From SLC Dunk:
If he (Boozer) does sit out this game, that puts Millsap on Amar'e and it will be up to him to contain the beast. Stoudemire is averaging just over 27 points a game over the last two months and is shooting nearly 60% this month. Foul calls are going to be huge tonight as Millsap's backup will likely be the KOOF.
Utah Jazz News and Notes:
- Utah has won 10 in a row at home and 19 of their last 21 games
- The Jazz are a league best 20-2 at home since January 6
- Kyle Korver could go 0-for-3 in Wednesday's finale and still break Steve Kerr's single-season NBA record of 52.4 percent.
- With Deron Williams in foul trouble on Tuesday night, Ronnie Price stepped up and totaled 14 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds in 29 minutes. Both the rebounds and assists equaled Price's career high, and his 14 points matched his season high.
- Andrei Kirilinko will be out for this game with a calf injury.
[Note by Wil Cantrell, 04/14/10 3:02 PM MST ]
Carlos Boozer will be out with his rib muscle thing, and Mehmet Okur is doubtful (the status comes from a "mostly reliable source...")
Amare Stoudemire Tweet of the Morning:
"Dear Wisdom: The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26 Learn about it!"
Y'all remember what it felt like to win 48 games last season and sit the playoffs out? Well, here's to the Suns resurgence, or um, comeback:
LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out (via LLCoolJVEVO)
Game Day Links:
Paul Coro: Suns earn home court advantage: The Suns have some business left in Utah tonight, but they will see you back home this weekend. Phoenix saw to that Tuesday night, using its home-court advantage to secure home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs with a 123-101 victory over Denver combined with Utah's win at Golden State
Coro's Dish: To Win or not to Win: The Suns' season finale in Utah looks like a bear to win. But should they be bullish about getting a win anyway? If Phoenix wins, it becomes the third seed and probably plays Portland, barring a San Antonio win at Dallas (with Dallas trying to secure a No. 2 seed) and a Portland home loss to Golden State.
Deseret News: Jazz set to play Suns in home finale: On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns did the Jazz one rather huge favor - beating Denver to help keep alive Utah's hopes for finishing as high as second place in the NBA's Western Conference.