When NBA observers called the Suns window closed and gave this team little chance at making any noise in the playoffs, or even making the playoffs, one reason was the age of the team's best player and his sidekick Grant Hill.
Watching Grant hobble out of the showers after every home game is painful to watch. But through a combination of good diet, rest and a strict regimen of stretching and other treatments, Hill is feeling the best he's felt all season.
Unfortunately, Steve Nash is at his worst physically right now.
Tonight in the locker room after losing to the Jazz in a game where he had 14 points, 15 assists and 7 turnovers but went 0-3 in the critical fourth quarter, Nash grimaced in pain while putting his arms through the sleeves of his shirt.
The combination of a mysterious lower abdominal strain that's been hanging around for weeks now and a flair up of his chronic back issues are taking their toll.
"I'm sore when I wake up in the morning," said a frustrated Nash."It's mentally and physically fatiguing to play physically at a deficit for so long...I can't do the things I want to do and it's painful out there but I've got to find a way to suck it up right now...Hopefully I'm not hurting the team."
The Suns have one more game on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers and then have an unusual 5 days off before their next game the following Friday against the Lakers. Coach Gentry has already said that he intends to rest Nash during that entire break.
By the time that Lakers game rolls around, the Suns should also have his understudies back on the court. Goran Dragic suffered a grade 1 sprain to his right ankle late in the Suns win over the Clippers on Wednesday and Leandro Barbosa is recovering from wrist surgery. Barbosa has been medically cleared and is expected to return when the break is over. He was shooting jump shots in pre-game warm-ups without the extensive tape and obvious pain that plagued him before his surgery. Dragic's ankle is expected to heal quickly.
Nash is hopeful that the time off will help but he doesn't sound too confident either. Instead he talked about how having Dragic and Barbosa back will give the team "options".
For now, Steve continues to do what he can which as Coach Gentry has pointed out is still better than most point guards in the league even at 50% health.
He continues to rack up assists at about 11 per game but his three point percentage has "dropped" three or four points to 40% and he is 1-9 from three in the last three games. The two point shooting has gone from a scorching 52% through January down to 45% in February and March. As result of the decline in shooting and fewer attempts, Nash's scoring has dropped from 20.5 ppg in December to 13.5 ppg in February.
Nash describes the impact of his injuries on his game this way, "I have no thrust. Every movement my back tightens and stops me from going somewhere. Our training staff does a great job to even get me out there at all."
Suns fans have reason to worry. If Nash isn't healthy and playing at his best like he was early in the season, the Suns will certainly struggle in the playoffs.