That’s why he’s hoping that this Portland Trail Blazers team is a lot different on the court, as it is on paper, compared to the team that beat the Suns by 38 points back on January 27.
“I hope they don’t look anything like that team,” Gentry said.
Phoenix wants to avenge that loss to the Trail Blazers, while the Suns are also keeping one eye on the standings and another eye on the calendar.
Tonight’s game marks only the second at US Airways Center in the month of April, but, on a good note, it also marks a stretch of five home contests in the last six games of the season.
Considering the Suns sit one game out of the final playoff position in the Western Conference, the final home stretch of the season couldn’t have come at a better time. On the other side of that coin, though, some of the West’s best pay a visit to Phoenix during these last few games – including the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs.
“As I said to the guys, we just have no margin of error. We played to put ourselves in a position to be able to have home games and have them count. That’s where we are, so we have to take it from here,” Gentry said.
To begin with, the Suns will have to solve the Trail Blazers’ riddle.
The most significant change in Portland’s roster, undoubtedly, is the season-ending hip injury to the team’s leading scorer and one of the league’s best power forwards – LaMarcus Aldridge. But that’s not to minimize the fact the team has also changed its head coach, from Nate McMillan to Kaleb Canales.
Added to the team overhaul was the loss of forward Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby via two separate trades. In came players like Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet, J.J. Hickson and Joel Przybilla.
This has also meant an increased responsibility for guys like Nicolas Batum, Jamal Crawford and Wesley Matthews. Opportunities have then arisen for second-year forward Luke Babbitt and rookie guard Nolan Smith.
That all combines into one thing, according to Gentry: maximized effort.
“I think the thing I’ve seen in the last three tapes that I watched of them, is that they play extremely hard,” Gentry said. “They’re very, very competitive and they’re playing guys that are trying to prove that they belong.
“So, obviously, you know you’re going to get maximum effort.”