This was one for the ages — 37, 36, and 35 to be precise. There was 37-year-old Shaquille O’Neal with 26 points and 11 rebounds. And there was 36-year-old Grant Hill with 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. And there was 35-year-old Steve Nash with 24 points and 10 assists.
What’s even more remarkable about how well these old (ancient in basketball age) guys are playing is that it was widely regarded that their future was well behind two of them, and that while the other one still had a few good days in him his best years were also in the rear view mirror.
But here they are powering a late push they hope will carry the Suns into the playoffs.
Given his age, bulk, and recent medical history O’Neal’s story is easily the most astonishing one, and if he doesn’t win Comeback Player of The Year and/or Most Improved Player, and maybe even get a vote or two for MVP, especially if the push is successful, it should trigger an automatic recount.
As for Hill, there’s no way he will get all the proper recognition, even right here in River City, for all the things he does for the team. And as for Nash, while we’ll never see the best of him except for occasional brief glimpses, the pretty good of him isn’t too shabby.
But never mind all that. What you really want to know if the Suns have a shot at the playoffs (or maybe you REALLY want to know if I’m nuts to even bring up the question considering their semi-prone position in the standings).
However, it says here (and maybe nowhere else) the Suns have a strong enough offense and weak enough schedule to go 11-3 the rest of the way. And it further says that if one of the 11 is April 5 in Dallas that might be enough to let the Suns slip past the Mavs into the eighth seed. One thing that makes this proposition at least semi-plausible (or at least not completely preposterous) is that the Mavs face a much more rigorous finishing schedule.
This is not, repeat NOT, a prediction, mind you. Well, actually the 11-3 part sort of is because the Suns’ version of the golden rule (i.e., score and let score) should generate enough points to wear out most of the teams left on the schedule.
In fact, Wednesday night was a perfect case in point and reminder of the way things used to be – namely, teams would stay with or even ahead of the Suns for three periods and then run out of gas down the stretch. The open looks are still there for the other team, but the legs aren’t. Even without Leandro Barbosa (knee injury) the Suns had no problem keeping the point meter running.
The bottom line: Keep you life jackets on, but don’t jump off the good ship Playoff just yet.