Playoff race could make Suns stand pat

Jan 13, 2012, 11:57 PM | Updated: Jan 14, 2012, 12:02 am

I’ll preface this prediction with, “If they stay healthy,
and avoid a fire sale in February or March.”

The Suns will make the playoffs.

“You’re just being a homer, Jeremy.”

I’m a Rockets fan. And go ahead and save all your
“Houston, we have a problem” comments for never again. I
know they have a problem, his name is Kevin Martin. On
that note, for Steve Nash, you can get that late-game “go-
to-guy” you’re missing. You can even throw in Robin Lopez.
It was worth a try.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m confident the Suns
will still be playing in May for several reasons:

First, they’re only two games under .500 despite shooting
44% from the field and a dismal 32% from three-point land.
That’s not Suns basketball. Of course, neither is the 43%
field goal shooting and 93 points-per-game they’re holding
opponents to. When was the last time the Suns were a top-
10 defensive team (they’re 8th now)? Let’s just say it’s
been a minute. They’re already allowing about 13 fewer
points per game than last season.

But isn’t everyone struggling offensively right now?

Most everyone is; only seven teams are averaging 99 points
per game or more. But come on, this is the Suns, who
usually have trouble stopping stalled cars. Chances are
their offense will improve before their D falls off

By the way, Steve Nash is on fire over the past week,
Channing Frye is hitting 3’s again and Marcin Gortat has
the highest field goal percentage in the league at 62%.
So they can’t stop Kobe Bryant? Get in line. It’s
also entirely possible that knee surgery in September and
a short preseason is having more of an effect on Grant
Hill than father-time catching up with him, but we’ll
check back on that in a few weeks.

Yes the Suns have a tough schedule this month, but it’s
not like their opponents are stockpiling nights off
either. Let’s say they finish January within a game of
.500 either way, seven of their first nine games in
February are against teams who aren’t even in the same zip
code of mediocre right now. And if they’re fighting for
the final playoff spot or two at the end of the season,
six of their final seven games are at U.S. Airways Center.

Let’s take a look at the West’s other third-tier teams. I
put Golden State (just beat the Heat), Utah, Memphis
(minus Zach Randolph) and the LA Clippers on the Suns
level. The Jazz are 6-4, but 0-4 against teams with
winning records, and they were blown out in all of those
losses. Who knows if Stephen Curry will get healthy this
season, and Monta Ellis is facing legal problems. The
Grizzlies probably won’t have their best player (Randolph)
back until March (at the earliest). The 5-3 Clippers are
just 2-4 against teams with winning records, and though
they are improved, still lack depth.

The way I see it the Thunder, Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks,
Nuggets and Blazers are virtual locks to make it. That
would leave the Suns, Clippers, Jazz and Grizzlies
fighting over the final two spots.

The big question is at what point does Lon Babby/Lance
Blanks look to trade Nash and/or Grant Hill? If they’re
in the hunt for the playoffs, I don’t see them going

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Playoff race could make Suns stand pat