The good news is they broke out the boos at US Airways Center Sunday. The bad news is that when the home fans break out the boos this is not a signal it’s party time.
The one bright spot of this game was Amare’s 31 points. (NBAE Photos)
Less than 48 hours after the Suns had the good fortune to catch the Celtics at their worst, they had the misfortune to catch the Pistons at their best. And the Pistons at their best are arguably the strongest team in the league and indisputably the best team in the East.
They are certainly the most experienced team in the league, with their key players having been together light years longer than anybody else’s. And the kind of togetherness and sure-footedness stood out in sharp contrast to the hesitancy and uncertainty of a Suns team that is less than a week into the brand new look brought about by the Shaq deal.
During this transition period the Suns, whose mantra in the Coach Mike era has been “A shot every seven seconds,” suddenly are hesitating to shoot. And as the team and Shaq work through getting used to each other, the temporary mantra is “A pass every seven seconds” — and that without whole lot of confidence.
As if this psychological hiccup in what has been the league’s best offense the last several years wasn’t problem enough, the Suns also were suffering from an emotional hangover Sunday. And no, it wasn’t the boos. What it was was an understandable letdown after coming off a weeklong emotional high from the beginning of the Shaq Era.
The addition of The Big Cactus changed the personality of the Suns overnight, and the changes were almost all for the better. But the immediate impact on the offense has been that the Suns are suddenly are having to go through the process of rediscovering who they are (or even exactly who they want to be).
But this rout was by no means all about the adjustments the Suns are having to make on the fly. The fact is the Pistons were virtually flawless in just about every aspect of the game.
They sliced and diced the Suns’ defense down low, were devastating on the perimeter (partly because the slicing and dicing inside created wide open looks), were dominating on the boards, and suffocating defensively. They even outran the Suns.
If you’re looking for a couple of key stats for the team’s offensive woes during this period of adjustment, try these two: The Suns had 19 assists and took only 77 shots (21 of which they more or less heaved up in garbage time (i.e. — the entire fourth period). Their season averages are 27 and 84.
On the plus side, Amare Stoudemire, who has significantly expanded his offensive range in recent weeks, had 31 points. And if you need a couple of bromides to ease the pain, this was only one game, and there is plenty of time to the Suns and Amare to not only get through the dating phase in their new relationship, but also get engaged, and even married.
The bottom line: Let us give thanks the playoffs don’t start tomorrow.