As the NBA playoff picture becomes clearer, the chances that the Phoenix Suns climb into the eighth spot dim daily amidst a four-game losing streak.
While veteran Grant Hill recognizes the impact Friday’s game could have on the team’s playoff chances he insists on ignoring the implications.
“Hopefully we can get back out there and at least, first and foremost, forget about what’s ahead of us,” Hill told Sports 620 KTAR’s Doug and Wolf Friday morning. “Let’s just get this win tonight and then see what happens afterwords.”
Frustration is setting in for a team that wasn’t able to gain any ground after facing four of the Western Conference teams positioned ahead of them in the past six games. Coach Alvin Gentry even went so far as walking out of Thursday’s practice.
“I think there was a frustration level from Alvin understanding the sense of urgency and the position we’re in,” Hill said. “He expects a certain level. When we’re not meeting that standard sometimes coaches have to do what they need to do to send a message or to motivate.”
While getting motivated may not be the problem, doing so quickly enough to force their way into the playoffs with only 16 games left in the season may be.
The fact that injuries aren’t being kind to the Suns during this necessary push is reminiscent of the last season Phoenix missed the postseason, when Amare Stoudemire partially detached his retina in February, 2009.
At least, for this year’s team, it seems the players are starting to get healthy, but the fear is it be too little too late.
The Suns were without Steve Nash for two games last week and have been relying on Hakim Warrick at the power forward position since they lost Channing Frye in an overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder two weeks ago.
Hill wouldn’t use the injuries to significant players as an excuse, though, saying only that the team needs to play like their season depends on it — because it does.
“We’re fighting for an opportunity to return to the postseason,” Hill said. “This is the wrong time of the season to lose games.”
Beating the Golden State Warriors, a team that is below Phoenix in the standings, would at least put the Suns in the right direction for the playoff run they need.
“But we’re on the outside looking in and every game is important,” Hill said.