(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)

This is not good!

Only the very casual residents of Planet Orange would make the mistake of celebrating the crushing of the Warriors, a crushing made all the “worse” by 20 assists from their old point guard and six straight threes by their new center.

So what’s not to like?

Well, consider this: One of the best things the Suns have going for them is that the experts see them as clinging to the bottom rung of the playoff ladder in the West this season. And by one hand, yet! And this is great news for a franchise that has always done its best when the least was expected. Overachieving is in its genes. (So, alas, is underachieving).

So now you can see where I’m going with this. (Actually, I was beginning to wonder myself).

What’s not to like is that too many performances like this could blow the team’s coveted cover!

You look this good and people will start forgetting how bad the teams are you are destroying and start fawning all over you. And so one thing to keep in mind as one swims upstream against a rising tide of harmful expectation is that the Warriors team that played here Friday night was disinterested, disorganized,  and defenseless.

And case you’re not catching my drift, if this had been boxing even the Nevada Athletic Commission would have held up their purse.

Still, while I hate to give comfort to those who would heap expectation pianos on the back of the Suns, I have to admit they looked pretty good in their home opener. They ran both their screen and rolls and devastating fast breaks with great efficiency a high percentage of the time, defended and rebounded unexpectedly well, and looked like they were having fun (which they rarely did last year even when they WERE having fun). And on a night when they missed 13 free throws and had 23 turnovers, they still scored 123 points.

And while nobody would have seen this sentence coming as recently as a few months ago (at least not without reaching for a butterfly net), Channing Frye is an upgrade over Shaquille O’Neal. Offense is the name of this team’s game and in Frye they have another weapon that fits their offense to a three. He doesn’t figure to rebound a lot and is not an intimidating defender, but he doesn’t clog up the offense and, much like the Suns themselves, his offensive plusses out weight his defensive minuses.

And in spite of myself, I couldn’t help thinking as I watched this game, that when Jason Richardson comes off suspension and Amar’e gets all the way back up to speed, the experts may easily be a few rungs short in their Suns forecast.

Speaking of Amar’e, even though he’s obviously not his explosive pre-injuries self yet, he still managed 20 points and 6 boards in 30 minutes and, more significantly, earned praise from Coach Alvin for his diligence on defense. And deservedly, I might add.

As for Steve Nash, Coach Alvin had it right when he echoing what Derek Jeter said about Mariano Rivera, “What else can you say about him?”

What indeed?

He’s not quite as good as he was, but it’s still pure basketball pleasure to watch him run an offense. It’s not just the numbers (although Friday’s 20 was certainly a nice one). It’s how he does it that’s such a joy.

The bottom line: This team just may be better than the experts think. But you didn’t hear it from me.

  • http://Twitter.com/blk600cc13 Mike

    Yeah… experts suck. Hearing Suns will place 8th IF their lucky. Pa-lease, this team is a top 5 contender in the west.

    I got them placing fourth. Possibly third. Everyone has to remember, this team had two coaching changes last season, the injury to Amar’e, the big trade, the other minor injuries and team chemistry wasn’t there as much as it could have like it is this season. So much bad things for this organization last season and it’s all together this season which started in camp.

    Everyone can say what they want about this team… but one things for sure, this IS a playoff team. And not a team that barely makes it and gets swept, but a team that can run you over if you sleep on them. Don’t be surprised come playoff time.

    Heard it here first. Go suns! Lakers lost today too! We’re on top!


    Joe, what was different, “and we have seen brief glimpses of it in past years only to be smacked back to reality the next game” was they actually looked like they were having fun playing defense. Don’t get me wrong, were not the old Pistons, but the Suns played with a consistent defensive intensity, like it was really part of the overall game plan. Granted, the Warriors are no Laker or Celtic team, but outside of those two it’s conceivable should the Suns decide to play this way over a prolonged period were in every game. Add Richardson, sharpen Amare up, cut the turnovers down, stay healthy, who knows how far it can go? The mighty, loaded Lakers looked awfully human against Dallas. All the above happens, I’m upping my prediction to 4 or 5 in the west.

  • asani

    The suns are top three in the west. The only team that the suns must worry about is the spurs because we haven’t beaten that team yet. This SUNS team is an explosive team and I doubt any team in the west wants to play them. I don’t know why so many people think the suns are a 4 or 5 seed I mean let’s get real. Last year the coaching change and trade declined them. The year before they had the best record before the Shaq trade and the year before that they won 54 games. The suns are a 55-60 game winning team which can elevate them to the top three in the west. The more they get used to one another the better they will become. Lakers are in trouble this year in the pacific

  • Lucas

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s me, maybe I’m too damn biased because the Suns are my favorite team, but I have them fighting a playoff position war at the TOP of the pack and not at the bottom. The Lakers think they have the division won, but if this team lives up to their potential, this team will have something to say about it. Nash is playing MVP-type ball so far (I know it’s too early to say that, but…), Hill appears ageless, Frye is making everything from 3, I see nothing but good things for these Suns and while no one else expects them to be in the top 4, I’ll be disappointed if they’re not there come April.