While the season seemed like doom and gloom for the Phoenix Suns (40-29) losing four out of five games and capping that all off with a bottom point in the season losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers they did what they always do. Like a much needed dose of medicine the Suns changed things up like a remix and rose back up like a Phoenix.
It has been that way for the team for the better part of the season where a season defining win or streak is immediately followed by a low-point. Like a loss to the Cavaliers.
One thing you count on with this band of young, inexperienced basketball players is that they are always going to bounce back. They are too inexperienced to know that they are not supposed to be doing this. We saw it last year with the Golden State Warriors and now with the Suns.
"You would think they would know the situation with the games we are in, the standings and that kind of stuff. We do not go over it, but I think everyone understands that at this point everyone has to step it up. You are trying to win games. We have to win games we are suppose too. That is the disappointing part." -- Head Coach Jeff Hornacek
The approach Coach Hornacek is taking is the right approach for a young team. Whether a young team is winning or losing all headline hunting can do is harm. They have to control their own destiny from within.
Having Eric Bledsoe back (14.3 PPG 5.3 APG since returning) has been a needed a spark with the team going 4-2 since then. Miles Plumlee is getting healthy after missing some action and P.J. Tucker is not going to be suspended every week for "throwing a punch" at Blake Griffin. This is the first time since December (19-11) the team is at full capacity with no missing links, players, or points. Essentially the Suns are entering Playoff Season with no excuses and 13 games to stamp their tickets into the post-season.
That road is paved with a combination of very winnable games and on the other hand games the team will have to earn.
Five games remain against teams under .500 (@ Atlanta, New York, @ LALakers, @ New Orleans, and @ Sacramento) with eight games against teams playing above .500 (@ Minnesota, @ Washington, LosAClippers, @ Portland, Oklahoma City, @ San Antonio, @ Dallas, and Memphis). Having eight of 13 games on the road is going to pose a difficult challenge especially with the quality of competition they are facing. On the season they are hit or miss on the road going 16-16, using that as a baseline, the Suns are looking at a 4-4 result in those games.
Other than lottery balls there is little for those lottery teams to play for other than pride. If you are follower of NBA basketball it is not a guarded secret that when it comes to lottery balls, there is no such thing as pride.
Collecting those wins is a crucial part of the puzzle for the Suns. They are the corners, easy to find, but vital to setting up the rest of the picture.
The Suns have done a good job against teams that were either .500 or better this year with a 14-17 record overall. All year they have picked the bones off the bottom of the NBA with a 26-12 record. All a team can do is control what they do on the court. The Grizzlies are .5 games ahead of the Suns while the Mavericks are 1.0 game ahead as of today. Both of them could go out and finish the season winning their final 14 and 12 games respectively.
What the team can do is control what they do.
They can go out and beat five teams that are under .500 and step up against the better teams on the schedule to take control of their destiny. Will the Suns rise up like a Phoenix?