PHOENIX — Quick question: Does anyone know which Suns team will show up at US Airways Center to play the L.A. Clippers Wednesday night?
Will it be the team that beat the Knicks by 24 points on March 28? Or will it be the team that lost to the Lakers by 16 points two days later?
“I think only God can answer that question,” Goran Dragic said smiling. “If I’m honest, I don’t know. I don’t know when…we’re going to play like that (against the Lakers). I mean it just happens. It shouldn’t happen, especially in this time of the season.”
The Suns (44-30) have experienced the highest of highs this season with five victories against 50-win teams, including a season sweep of Indiana.
And then there have been the low moments, like the Lakers defeat and twice losing to Sacramento and Utah. That addes up to five losses to the bottom three teams in the Western Conference.
“It’s the mental preparation,” head coach Jeff Hornacek explained. “I think when you look at guys that have been around the league awhile and have been on good teams, they know how to mentally prepare for every game. I think our guys are still trying to learn that. A lot of times you think you can just, ‘Oh, I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready,’ but there’s another level you go to and when you play these top teams they get to that level. But now they’ve got to figure out how they can get to that level when you’re playing lesser teams.”
The good news for the Suns is that only two lesser teams remain on the schedule: April 9 at New Orleans (32-42) and April 16 at Sacramento (26-48).
So while the Suns may have a tougher schedule down the stretch than Dallas and Memphis, the two teams they’re competing with to make the playoffs, perhaps they actually have the edge.
“We always play good against good teams,” Dragic said. “Maybe that’s a good thing because then we know that we’re going to bring energy and we’re going to bring our confidence. We’re going to play hard, and against those teams you have to, you have to play well if you want to win those games. Maybe if I go back against L.A., maybe we didn’t think like that. That’s what makes us vulnerable.”
The Suns are 19-15 against teams with winning records. Their next three opponents — Clippers, Blazers and Thunder — are a combined 88 games above .500.
Perfect. The Suns are in great shape.
“Sometimes we never know until we get to the tipoff,” Hornacek said. “There are times when we come in the morning and we’re saying they don’t look ready to play and then they play great; and then other games in the morning we’re going they look really ready and then they lay an egg. I think we’ve quit trying to figure out what’s going to happen.”