Historically, reaching the .500 plateau has never been cause to break out the bubbly and have street dancing break out in Planet Orange. And indeed, there were no streamers and balloons floating down from the ceiling at US Airways Center when the final horn sounded in the victory over the Warriors that brought the team back to that level for the first time since December 19th.
But put it in proper context (i.e. where the Suns were just a few short weeks ago), there is cause for at least a few attaboys for what symbolically at least signifies a wiping the slate of all the woe and raising the prospects for a bright future.
In case you’ve forgotten the vis-à-vis, it wasn’t that long ago that even some of the Planet’s most solid citizens were moaning that the ship be sinking. And those were the optimists! The pessimists were wailing it was sunk.
Now the Suns are on a 10-4 roll that has not only brought them back to .500, but also moved them within two games in the loss column of the sixth slot in the Western Conference playoff picture. And of the three teams ahead of them, Utah has just changed coaches, the Blazers are banged up, and the Nuggets are in the midst of a Melo-drama that bodes them no good however it comes out.
In fact, with the notable exceptions of San Antonio and Dallas nobody in the West has been more impressive the last three weeks than the Suns. And who’d a-thunk that this time last month? Nobody, that’s who!
Well, ALMOST nobody. The management, coaches, and players have insisted all along things would eventually come together, and all of the above deserve high marks for keeping their eye on the doughnut and not upon the hole.
To survive a pre-season revamp of the squad that reached the Western Finals last year, followed by an in-season revamp of the pre-season revamp, and a series of embarrassing defeats that had people talking lottery and demanding that somebody be fired (actually almost everybody) took some tall doing.
Or more specifically, it took a solid effort by an underrated coaching staff, and the justly acclaimed veteran leadership of Steve Nash and Grant Hill to keep everything from going where it could very easily have — namely due South. And give the much maligned (not always unjustly) management props for the deal with Orlando that brought the team such much needed muscle.
This is not to suggest the team is all the way back to where it was at the end of last season, mind you. But it’s closer than anybody would have imagined a month ago. And the suspicion here that that before it’s over, it’s going to be even closer.