In the event you didn’t believe in the Phoenix Suns before, now might be a good time to start.
If you thought Steve Nash would no longer be able to get it done at the age of 35, or that Grant Hill might be over-the-hill, or that Amar’e Stoudemire might have lost a little of his magic … well, now would be a good time to reconsider.
And if you figured the Suns may not be able to run and gun and still have lots of fun, then you must have missed their statement of a 110-103 win against previously unbeaten Boston.
Yes, it’s very early.
Yes, the Suns still have plenty of toughies left on a November schedule packed with road games.
Yes, there are bound to be a few bumps along the way.
But if someone told you the Suns would emerge with a 2-1 record after games in Miami, Orlando and Boston, would you have believed them?
If someone said the Suns would start the season 5-1 after playing just two games at home, would you be happy?
As Nash said afterward, “We’ve got 17 of our first 26 on the road. So we have to try to find a way to win some of these while we try to find out who we are.”
That’s right, people. The Suns are in fact still trying to figure out who they are. And they’re winning anyway. In Boston, and in Miami — which just happened to clobber Western Conference contender Denver on the same night the Suns stunned the Celtics.
Again, an entire season remains. Things like injuries and slumps are bound to occur, occasional adjustments will need to be made. And no one has ever been handed the Larry O’Brien championship trophy during the first week of November. Or even the final week of February, for that matter.
Still, the Suns fast-break of a start sure beats the alternative. Especially since no one really knew what to expect — including the Suns themselves.
“It’s a whole fresh start for us with a lot of new players,” Nash said. “Last year was basically a throw away year with so many things thrown at us. We’re not really sure what to expect going into this season. So we’re just trying to find ourselves and try to be as positive and work as hard as we can everyday to get a little better.”
Think about that. The Suns think they can still get better. And guess what? They‘re right.
Nash also speaks the truth when he talks about the changes to the Suns’ roster.
Shaquille O’Neal is gone. Jason Richardson and Channing Frye just finished their first training camp in Phoenix. The Suns went from being one of the older teams in the league to one with an average age of 26.5.
The bench is now youthful, athletic and determined with guys like Jared Dudley, Lou Amundson and rookie Earl Clark. And did we mention the Suns beat the Celtics without Leandro Barbosa?
Combine all that with the fact the Suns seemingly must hit the road more than the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and they would have plenty of excuses to not be doing so well.
Yet here they are. Six games, five wins, and an endless supply of handshakes, hugs and high fives.
Oh, yeah. There was a little bit of defense, too. It’s true — in each of their five wins, the Suns have made the big stops when they had to have them. So while they can still run you off the court, these Suns are placing more of an emphasis on bending their knees, shuffling their feet and staying between the ball and the basket.
“I like the fact that the first things our guys said when we went into the locker room (after the game) was that we won it with our defense again,” said Suns coach Alvin Gentry.
Then Gentry repeated himself, as if he wanted to make sure you heard him loud and clear.
“We really did win it with our defense,” he said.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy what the Suns have been serving. After all, believing should no longer be a difficult thing to do.
Sam Amico writes for NBA.com and is a regular contributor to Suns.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.