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?”
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.