Wow, doesn't this game seem totally meaningless?
The Suns are not going to the playoffs. The result of this game will mean nothing to the Suns season.
Yet it still does matter in some other ways and for those reasons I will watch this game like every other and hope for a better result than the last.
Why this game still matters:
- The Hornets are playing for playoff position. Some other team and fan base is counting on the Suns to show up and not roll over
- After Sunday's beat down which Alvin Gentry called the worst game of his 20 year coaching career, it is important for no other reason then individual and team pride that the Suns play hard
- Gentry also talked about wanting to get young players more time. He mentioned Robin Lopez but I am curious to see how he handles Nash's time in this game. It might give us a small window into what the team is thinking for the future
- Weeks ago I said that the Suns needed to finish strong so as to leave the fan base with a positive taste despite not making the playoffs. If the season had ended after the 6 game win streak the feeling in town would have been different then if the season ended Sunday. By winning or at least playing hard and well over these final five game the Suns can influence how the fans feel and perhaps also impact season ticket sales
- Karma. Don't mess with karma by going into a game in any other mindset then trying to get a win
About the game
The Hornets are one of the toughest match-ups for the Suns because they are strong in two areas where our team is weakest.
Chris Paul is tearing up point guards all over the league and frankly having opposing point guards give Nash fits is nothing new for the Suns. The problem here is that Paul also is great defensively and has done a fantastic job disrupting the Suns offense.
I am very interested to see if Gentry opts to "rest" Nash more and use his longer, better defensive guards: Barbosa and Dragic. Barbosa vs Paul for significant minutes is definitely a match-up I am interested in. Not that I expect LB to be a "CP3 stopper", but I at the same time he should fair better then Nash.
Tyson Chandler is exactly the kind of mobile defensive big man that can finish on the pick and roll that Shaq simply can't hang with. Fortunately for the Suns, Chandler is still out with an ankle injury leaving the big man minutes to Hilton Armstrong and Sean Marks.
If the Suns choose to feed Shaq that ball he will feast on that BBQ chicken. Even if Gentry limits Shaq to 20-25 minutes, Lopez should be able to hang with these guys.
Peja came back from injury Tuesday and played in his first game since March 2nd. He had 24 points and 46 minutes in the Hornet's OT win over the Heat. His numbers don't look great - he was 38% from the field but he did manage to nail 5 of his 12 three-point attempts. Peja has killed the Suns in the past as the defense has needed to collapse to deal with Paul. Hopefully, he will be tired after playing so many minutes last night after being out for so long.
It is definitely a different feeling going into this game. Just remember though how long the summer is going to be without Suns basketball and try and find some enjoyment in these final five games.