For the first time this season, the fast-breaking Suns have hit a snag. And guess what? That’s OK.
Or more accurately, it’s about time.
The end of the most recent trip to the East and Midwest didn’t end nearly as triumphantly as the previous one, with the Suns dropping their final two games — including Wednesday’s 107-90 loss at Cleveland, a loss in which they trailed by as many as 30 points.
On the previous night, the Suns were blown out by New York.
Of course, you knew all that already, and as a someone who cares about the team, you might be wondering if the wheels are starting to come off.
But I am here to tell you not to be overly concerned. I am here to tell you that the Suns aren’t on their way down, and I say it with complete faith. I am here to tell you that the Suns have only played six games at home — an excuse, of course, they themselves will never make.
Mostly, I am here to tell you I was in Cleveland and saw the looks on the Suns’ faces after the game. And it was far from panic. It was more like a little concern and plenty of resolve.
“We’ve got some work to do,” admitted Suns coach Alvin Gentry. “We’ve got to get some things solved.”
“But we’re a good basketball team,” Gentry said. “We’re just struggling right now. We have things that we have to get corrected, but it’s not anything we can’t do when we get a couple of practice days.”
The Suns played fantastic in places like Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and Toronto, but eventually, all that traveling is gonna have an effect on your legs. And therefore, your jump shot. Or in the case of the Suns, it will mostly have an effect on your ability to run and gun and keep opposing defenses on their heels.
Again, the Suns make no excuses. Nor should they. But they can also use the fact they’ve been on the road more than the Rolling Stones as a reason not to overreact.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to play 41 road games,” Gentry said. “But, we have been away from home a lot. The bottom line is, if you take away the two games at home, we’ve played 17 of 21 on the road. It gets to be a little bit tough. I don’t think we’ll ever use it as an excuse, but we are getting a little bit worn. We just need to get back home.”
Through it all, the Suns are an impressive 14-5. Considering the schedule, and the fact there’s a new starting center in Channing Frye, and a still-developing youthful bench, and that this is the team’s first full season under Gentry … well, most Suns fans will take it.
The good news is, just as the Suns must play 41 games on the road, they will also play 41 at home. It may not seem like it today, but in another month or so, they’ll get their shot at these same teams — in Phoenix.
As for the issues of the previous two games, don’t sweat it. The Suns sure aren’t. That’s not to say they don’t care. It’s just that they understand this is the NBA. No one goes 82-0, or 79-3, or even 77-5, for that matter.
“It’s just a little bit of adversity,” Suns forward Grant Hill explained. “Every team kind of goes through it. You have those valleys during the course of the season. This is part of it. It’s a test, that’s what coach said. You can’t get overly discouraged.”
No you cannot. After all, now is when the Suns will really show what type of team they are, and what type of team they can still become.
And after the first 19 games, you can’t do anything but continue to have high hopes.
Sam Amico writes for NBA.com and is a regular contributor to Suns.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.