Oh, they could have hoped a combination of circumstances would give them the home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but that was the longest of long shots anyway.

Gordan Giricek lead the Suns bench to a win over the Blazers on Wednesday.

And everything else fell nicely into place. They got to rest their starters the last three quarters and still beat Portland, and as for the playoff bracket, it couldn’t have turned out much better for the Suns if they had been allowed to draw it up themselves.

They get San Antonio and a chance to exorcise the post-season demons that have tormented them the last few seasons in the first round, and they don’t have to deal with the Lakers until the third round.

This hardly means the Suns have been given a free pass into the NBA Finals, of course. But given how top heavy the West is this year it’s really the least worst of the possible title paths they could have had to take.

The San Antonio-Phoenix series, which opens Saturday in Texas, offers the most compelling first-round story line in either Conference, what with the Spurs seeking their fourth title in the last eight years and the Suns and their aggrieved fans thirsting for the kind of truth and justice that can only come by beating the Spurs.

This is the kind of high drama you seldom get in a first round, especially in a 3-6 matchup.

The Spurs are looking old and vulnerable, but then they always seem look old and vulnerable going INTO the playoffs, and more often than not like champions coming OUT. So the Suns certainly are not about to fall for that Coach Pop’s con, even if it finally turns out to be true. He’s just cried wolf too many times.

But either way the Suns are more ready for him than they’ve ever been. TV analyst Mark Jackson put their case best when he said, “With the trade for Shaq the Suns have gone from having a shooter’s shot at the title to a legitimate shot.”

Amen! And furthermore, the Suns would be the team in the West I would least like to face. And that includes the Lakers!

The Suns can play big, they can play small, they can play fast, and they can play slow. And unlike in the past, they CAN”T be easily bullied. Think about it. For the first time in their history they are entering the post season with a monster in the middle. In fact, THE monster, albeit a somewhat long in the tooth one.

Further, with all due respect to great youngsters like Chris Paul and Deron Williams, in Steve Nash the Suns still have the point guard I’d most want to have the ball for me in the last two minutes of a game where the winner gets a million dollars and the loser gets electrocuted. And in Amare they have an unstoppable power forward.

The bottom line: It says here that is a franchise whose time has come!

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