Last night the Suns played a superb half of basketball. It was what we all like to call "Suns Basketball," which is just a different way of saying these guys are playing up to their potential. The;Suns are 5-2 in their last 7 games. Why? We could dig into numbers or come up with some pretty fancy graphs. But we need not; we've been watching the games. It's pretty clear to see why the Suns have found some recent success.
The Suns recent run can be attributed to a combination of things:
1. Solidification of the Rotation-Brown and Warrick sit, Price's court time diminishes, Redd plays and he's hitting shots, Chill plays and is rebounding and defending. Frye is hitting shots. The key here is SCORING. Price is a defensive specialist, not a big threat from the wing. Sebastian Telfair has an established role, and isn't an awful stop-gap for when Nash needs to rest. Warrick has had flashes, but he's the odd man out against two larger, more physical players in Frye and and Morris.
2. Offense-in the last 5 games, Channing Frye has gone 40% from the field. In the prior 5, he shot 20%. Michael Redd has 3 straight double digit scoring efforts and has played the most minutes in his short tenure with the Suns. These guys are finding their legs. Period. Frye can shoot, we know it. It's not like he isn't trying to get back on track, and we also know that the Suns are a much better team with Frye producing. Redd is also getting in shape. He's healthy, so now its only a question of shaking the rust off. His shots last night were confident. Redd, back in his old stomping ground, was confident. Shooters need confidence plain and simple. And these guys seem to be gaining it.
3. Dudley and Frye Return to Starting Lineup. Dudley's numbers as a starter are always better than when he comes off the bench. Maybe because he gets starters minutes, maybe because Nash is on the floor to find him. Morris clearly wants to come off the bench. Wish granted. Refer to #2 above, add these two to the starting lineup and have them produce. Frye stretches the floor, makes his big defender come out to guard him, which allows Gortat and Co space down low to work for offensive rebounds.
4. Iffy competition. Some will no doubt point out that the last five victories should have a tiny little asterisk next to them. Atlanta without Horford, Milwaukee without Bogut, Charlotte sucks, New Orleans sucks, Memphis without Randolph. Ugly losses to top WC squads-Dallas (twice), Portland, and Houston. But guess what? I don't care. As Elvis plastered all over his airplane, you gotta "T.C.B." Take Care of Business. Against garbage foes and the best of the best.
5. Energy, Defense, and Focus. They all go hand in hand. Said Alvin Gentry before the Bobcat game:
"I am more concerned about the overall energy level as anything. To me that's the most important thing. We've just had too much of a discrepancy and that area right there is something we've got to get back and be consistent with, competing and playing hard night in and night out."
It is all good news for the moment. Winning does that. But the standings remain the same. The Suns are third in the Pacific and 12th in the WC. It will take a Herculian effort to turn it around and sustain this level of play for the remainder of the season. But maybe, just maybe...Anything can happen, right?