What in the Wild World of roundball is going on?
The health of Raja Bell’s knees are vital to his long range game.
That is the question I have been peppered with the last two days – at the grocery store, at the coffee shop (double iced latte with caramel pecan flavoring FYI), at the pool supply store! But I love it. The Suns are like a mini-series – the NBA’s Grey’s Anatomy as NBA doctors (aka fans) try to figure out what is ailing the Suns and what cure-all will make these harrowing last two games go away.
I love the fans’ passion and concern. And I share both. Here now are my top five reasons why the Suns have hit a significant speed-bump in the middle of March:
1. Boris Diaw is not the 3-D image we saw last season.
Boris told Eddie Johnson and me on the plane flight home from Denver that his lingering back problems continue to limit his ability to elevate and most importantly explode off his feet to loose balls. So for those who think Boris is lazy or enjoying his “fat new contract,” think again. He has the WILL, just not the WAY until this back problem clears.
2. Raja Bell is not Ringing-up 3′s Consistently.
Raja’s long-range game is vital for the Suns. While he ABSOLUTELY “brings it” every night from an intensity standpoint, you can definitely see his shot has been betraying him lately – or as Steve Nash has said, “he’s firing some scuds out there.” Raja will never admit it, but he too has been battling a lingering injury – and knees are key to lift and power on long-range shots.
3. The Suns are Bulls-eyed!
No, I am not saying the Suns are enamored with that team in Chicago. It’s basically this simple: NBA teams can’t wait to take aim on the “NBA Darlings.” Now tell me, if you’re an NBA player reading Sports Illustrated or USA Today, wouldn’t you be up to your ears in envy over the affection bestowed upon our beloved Suns? Every writer across the country has a pen dripping with superlatives when gushing over the Suns. So each night that envy is played out with a passion that other teams around the league (outside of Dallas) do not have to endure. Simply put, the Suns will get the other team’s best shot EVERY NIGHT!
4. Speed Ball has a Speed Limit
The Suns style is the most entertaining the league has since the Lakers Showtime days. But to expect that every night over an 82-game schedule (with every team gunning for you) is unrealistic. Okay, so the Mavs have demonstrated a rare consistency – but they too have hit some recent speed-bumps (see meltdown to PHX or near-loss to Celtics). Look at Utah lately or even the Spurs and Heat who were totally disinterested at times this season. It’s an NBA fact-of-life: You will struggle at some points during the season!
5. Rebounding and Defense
I know this is stating the obvious, but come playoff time the passion will return and so too will the chasing down of long rebounds and committing yourself to staying in front of the man you are covering.
So there are the Top 5 Reasons why the Suns are reeling right now. Here now is my Top Reason Why I am Not Worried:
1. The Suns Shine in the Spotlight
Go back to last season (the best two performances in DO-OR-DIE Game 7s – shooting better than 60 percent from the field in the most pressure-packed of circumstances) and even this year (national TV games against the Cavs, the Mavs etc), this Suns team excels when the stakes are high. So when the playoffs roll around, expect the Best Show on Sneakers to peak again.