Maybe I’ll lose all credibility I have for writing this.
Maybe I’ll win a Pulitzer. The former is a lot more
likely, but I’m pursuing neither. I’m simply telling you
what I genuinely believe.
Assuming the Suns do enough to crack the postseason (which
incidentally I predicted they would back in January when
they were 4-6), they will be a handful for San Antonio
or Oklahoma City. They obviously won’t be favored, nor
should they be. But they will be by far the team with the
least amount of pressure. The aging Spurs can ill-afford a
second straight first round exit after posting a top
seeding, and just about everyone who wears a media badge
(myself included) picked the Thunder to take that next
step and win the Western Conference.
The Suns, on the other hand, have nothing to lose. Nobody
knew what to think of them at the beginning of the season,
nobody thought much of them two months ago when they were
12-19, and nobody will give them a chance in the first
I’m not picking them to win a series (on paper, I’d be a
fool to), but I do expect them to draw things out and
perhaps steal a Game 7 on the road. Of course there’s a
method to my apparent madness.
I know they don’t match up well with the Duncans or
Durants, nor have they had any success against them this
season (a combined 0-5 entering Wednesday’s game vs. OKC).
Tim Duncan has handled Marcin Gortat 69-35 in the points
column, and Russell Westbrook has had little trouble with
Steve Nash, outscoring him 49-20 in the first two
meetings. The Suns don’t have much of an answer for other
key players like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, James Harden
and Serge Ibaka either.
Here’s what the Suns do have in their favor: no chance –
at least not in the eyes of the rest of the country and
probably their opponents either. The Thunder and Spurs
will say the right things. They’ll tell everyone Steve
Nash is still an elite point guard, Grant Hill a great
defender and Alvin Gentry a really good coach. They’ll be
correct on all three counts. But will the Spurs/Thunder
really believe that an inferior team left for dead just
weeks ago will be that big a threat to their ultimate
All the Suns have to counter with is an elite guard hungry
to bring his team and the Valley a few more good memories
before he hits free agency and quite possibly leaves for
bluer waters (Miami). Hill’s contract is also up and he
wants to do the same. They have Shannon Brown, who’s
averaging 15 points over his last 10 games and knows a
great chance drive his price up in free agency when he
sees one. Channing Frye might even decide he wants to make
some sort of impact before the offseason. The Suns also
have a bench that’s been among the best in the NBA (37 ppg
since the All-Star Break and nearly 45 ppg over their last
Obviously there’s the matter of actually holding off
Houston and Utah and actually making the playoffs, but
assuming they do, these Suns won’t be easy outs.