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In Transition: Suns Weekly Checkup for 02/16/2008

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We're going Memento with the Weekly Checkup this time (great movie if you haven't seen it). We're starting at the end of the week and working our way back. I'll try not to keep you as long as last time.

This Just In
Aluminum Foyle spotted the news that the Hawks are nearing a trade for Mike Bibby. This tips my season-long prediction that the Hawks would make the playoffs decidedly in my favor. And I was so hoping to be wrong about that...

All-Star Thread Is Open for Business
In case you haven't heard, there's an All-Star game this weekend. There won't be any formalized live blogging most likely, but you can discuss the festivities in the open thread.

Dallas Game a Fitting End to an Era
At first I was disappointed that Shaq postponed his debut until after the break. But in retrospect, I can't think of a more fitting way to end the small-ball era than one last battle with the team that has given us some of the most entertaining games of the past three and a half seasons.

I first saw the run-and-gun Suns way back in November of 2004 when they played in Dallas. It was Steve Nash's first game against his former team since signing with the Suns that summer. Both teams came into it with promising starts, but much to prove. None of us watching had any clue we were witnessing the emergence of a new elite power in the West, but we did figure out before the end of the first quarter that we were in for one heck of a fun evening. The game stayed close until the final minutes when the Suns pulled out ahead. It was a theme that would repeat itself many times over the next three seasons, and did so again Thursday night. Even with the Suns lacking both the high-flying Matrix and the big guy who will soon replace him in the lineup, and even with the Mavericks missing their starting small forward, point guard, and sixth man, the two teams still managed to put on a show. The next time the Suns and Mavericks meet up, the look won't be quite the same, possibly for either team. But I doubt we've seen the last of the fun, regardless. In the meantime, Thursday's win leaves the Suns 3-2 in the post-Matrix/pre-Shaq transition period.

The Warriors Are the New Suns
Small-ball isn't dead, it's just moved west to Oakland. In truth, ever since they traded for Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson, there's a decent argument that the Warriors had already leap-frogged the Suns in terms of being a pure small-ball, run-and-gun team. Despite their much better overall record, the Suns are still looking for their first victory over the post-Dunleavy Warriors. That nearly changed this past week, but the Suns fell two points short. (Oh, that free throw...).

Big Mouths and Early Birds
The Mavericks tried to enter the Western Conference arms race with a splash-making trade of their own, but got done in (so far) by Devean George's early Larry Bird rights and Jerry Stackhouse's big mouth. The latest report from ESPN is that the Maverick's attempt to trade a full third of their roster for Jason Kidd is "going away". Don't be surprised if Mark Cuban doesn't find a way to make it work, though. He doesn't strike me as someone who gives up that easily.

Call Your Shot
There's still time to call your shot to win a free Shaq jersey. In light of Shaq's delayed debut, srp has extended the deadline. He also shared what has to happen for Shaq to be successful in Phoenix.

Amare Takes the Prize
The Player of the Week prize, that is. As a sign that the Suns have been flying under the radar, Amare is the first Sun to be awarded the honor this season.

Survival of the Fittest
The Suns started the week the same way they ended it, with a close game over a depleted team. Already missing Gilbert Arenas for most of the season, the Wizards came to town with both Antonio Daniels and Caron Butler out with injuries. The Suns were shorthanded as well, with Leandro Barbosa leaving with the flu in addition to Shaq's "pending" status. All that counts is the "W", though, and the Suns got one by the slimmest of margins. It's all about survival until the big guy takes the floor.