Okay, everybody take a deep breath. You saw the Phoenix-New Jersey game on December 7th, where Phoenix raced up and down the court, trading basket after basket en route to marginal double overtime victory. The game was the 4th highest ever, involving 318 combined points scored. It was an instant classic, and should be enjoyed and remembered by all NBA fans.
Now did you get enough of it yet? I hope so. Because for all of you who think Phoenix or New Jersey are headed anywhere in the playoffs after a performance like that have to be absolutely crazy!
Forget about the Nets going anywhere though. They aren’t any better than last year, and while they do have the veteran leadership to do some things. It also looks like they will have a hard time winning their division this year, and they won’t ever beat a full-strength Miami Heat team or the Detroit Pistons in the post-season.
But back to everybody’s offensive-minded darlings: the Phoenix Suns! Because the Phoenix Suns will not win a conference championship, never mind an NBA championship.
While the Suns have had some great success over the past two years, it has been rather meaningless. While going to the conference finals can demonstrate that a franchise has made a gigantic step towards prominence, ending your season during that same round of the playoffs two-years in a row only symbolizes stagnancy. Just look back at the Mavericks. They went to the Western Conference championships several times, only to lose and trust me, nobody on those Maverick teams thought that they had a good year following those playoff exits.
Everybody is going to point to the emergence of Amare Stoudamire as to why the Phoenix Suns can win the Western Conference. But even when Amare had his best six games ever against the Spurs in the 2005 Western Conference championships, it was not enough to beat the San Antonio Spurs. Even if Amare can return to that form, and even if he can be better than he once was after several knee surgeries, that style of play just won’t beat any Tim Duncan lead team.
Using the Mavericks as an example, yet again, think back to all of their early exits to the Spurs during the playoffs. They were a team that sold it’s sole to make a jump-shot, and it sometimes looked like they made their defensive effort apart of that deal too. In the end, their offensive prowess was not enough to beat any defensive team that had a predominant scorer. They lost to the Spurs, Kings and they even lost to the Suns in 2005 because neither team had any defense and the Suns had a better offensive team.
So what did the Mavericks do to make sure that they never lost to another team like the Suns, and to assure that they could compete with a team like the Spurs? They became defensive minded. They started to make stops throughout the season, throughout the games and throughout the 4th quarter. That way, when it was time to make a stop in the last 2 minutes of a playoff game, they knew that they could do it. And knowing is half the battle.
Unfortunately, the Suns don’t know that they can make a stop, because they don’t have any experience making stops at any other time. And when it comes time for them to make that stop, late in the 4th quarter, during the Western Conference championship, in a deciding game 7, they will all but certainly fail. And they will continue to fail as long as they think giving up 130 points during regulation is okay as long as you’re capable of outscoring your opponent; just like they outscored New Jersey in overtime after the Nets put up 130 in 48 minutes of regulation play.
So for those of you who that Nets-Suns’ game represented a change in the times and demonstrated a fashion in which the Suns can win clutch games against good teams, you just need to take that train of thought and stop it. Because the Suns won’t certainly won’t help you.