Question: Has any team ever made a more emphatic playoff eve statement than the Suns?
I know, I know. Such “statements” are like oral agreements (i.e., not worth the paper they are written on).
But I’m just sayin….
And whatever significance can be attached to going into the playoffs on a roll, several facts seem perfectly clear, namely and to wit: 1. The Suns have been playing the most impressive basketball in the West the last three weeks, the Lakers not excluded. 2. The Suns have far and away more offensive weapons than any other team in the West. 3. The Suns are playing their most physical (i.e., playoff type) basketball in the last five years. 3. In Amar’e Stoudemire, the Suns have one of the true Monsters in the entire league.
And finally, given where these guys were expected to finish back at the start, a case could be made for the proposition this could become the most magical team since that unforgettable ’76 season. They’ve had other teams go deep in the playoffs over the intervening years, but most of those were powerhouses that were SUPPOSED to go deep.
I don’t know whether they can finish off the regular season in really grand style by knocking off the Jazz in Salt Lake on Wednesday night or not, and I don’t really care. You could even argue they’d be better off with a fourth seed than a third, but this is a distinction without more than a dime’s worth of difference.
The important playoff position was nailed down last night with the hammering of the Nuggets. And don’t let that 123-101 score fool you. The game wasn’t nearly that close. This was supposed to be a titanic struggle between two powerhouses battling for postseason position, but it came up one powerhouse short.
If the Suns did anything wrong at either end of the court, I missed it. I admit my attention wandered a little when the lead reached 28 in the third period, but it perked up in the fourth when the Suns’ bench crew went a little Showtime, finish with 12 of 15 threes and featuring some spectacular alley-oop displays.
The defense also had some bite it when it mattered, and the allegedly glass-allergic Suns out-rebounded the Nuggets 52-24.
Granted, beating the Nuggets here is not exactly like beating a leopard in a tree. This was the 11th straight time they’ve drubbed them in US Airways Center and they’ve averaged nearly 120 points a game during that streak — which through no coincidence whatever, by the way, started when Steve Nash returned here from Dallas.
Still, there’s no getting way from how impressive the Suns were, and not just last night. It wasn’t only last week that they brushed off the Spurs like so much lint.
The bottom line: In case you somehow missed by drift, I’m very bullish on Suns’ playoff prospects.
There are a lot of things you could single out, but easily the most significant one both for the present and future was the MVP chant that went up in the third period. The significant thing was it wasn’t for two-time winner Steve Nash.
It was for Amare Stoudemire, who has long craved that kind of attention, and is certainly playing like an MVP. And being appreciated might make him more inclined to really want to stay here.