Order of the Phoenix
It is about time that the Phoenix Suns deliver.
On the face of it, they have had two consecutive 60-win seasons, which would make most franchises more than happy. They are shining bright this year too, with the longest winning streak in franchise history (and the NBA's longest of the season so far) . But is that good enough for Steve Nash and his colleagues? I am guessing, the answer is no. Because Nash and all the guys out on the floor with him love to win. It is not easy to be relentless night after night in the tightly packed NBA schedule, unless you have an overwhelming desire to win. Unfortunately though, unless they start winning the big games, the Suns are pretty close to being tagged as "chokers". Against the Spurs in 2005, it was more of a psychological surrender than an on-court defeat. The same can be said about the conference finals with Dallas last year. They have got to exorcise those demons; do some soul searching; find the right answer! I wonder what sets them back in clutch playoff games. Are the starters playing too many minutes during the regular season? So much, that by April, they have a bunch of tired legs? The answer again is no! Leandro Barbosa, James Jones and Kurt Thomas are giving "quality and quantity" from the bench and could actually start on some of the other teams. Do they have injury trouble? Well, Last season they did have the biggest one in the form of Amare Stoudemire. But the big man is back this time and is close to the peak of his powers. And his return has solved a lot of puzzles for the Suns. With Amare, the Suns have someone to attack the basket and draw free throws, which they were not doing much last season. The perimeter game is fun to watch - and effective too, when you have a group of shooters like the Suns do - but when the going gets tough, it can be an asset to have strong post players. Something for Shawn Marion to think about. One can't help but remember how he was done in by Tim Duncan, the year before last; Marion averaged 7 ppg and the Spurs won in 5! Amare is one of the better shot blockers in the league which gives a boost to the Suns' not-too-formidable defense. His return has also enabled Boris Diaw to play in his usual position as small forward. For the Suns, unless something untoward happens, all pieces are in place this year. They have had a couple of learning experiences the last two years and more importantly a whiff of the title. Although it's not even All-Star weekend yet, it is time for Mike'D'Antoni and his wards to start seeing this as a potential title run. More so, as Steve Nash is at his peak, and the laws of nature do not guarantee that he will be so next season. And unless the Suns win this season, Nash might well become one of the best players never to have won a title. After all not many can have Alonzo Mourning's luck; having Shaq and Flash to carry him to that elusive ring. So rise and shine, Phoenix! Time to prove to Phil Jackson (btw Big Phil called them "a bunch of nice guys" and "pussycats") that even nice guys can win! - BS