Nothing Special, Really

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

We're Going Streaking!

I had to wait until after Monday to finally post about this. As non-spiritual or un-superstitious as I am, I still feel that certain actions of mine can have an impact on a group of people literally hundreds of miles away, and there's no way I was going to write about this until I knew for sure that my words were harmless.

Because if I had written this on Sunday, and then the Suns lose to Minnesota on Monday..I, I don't know if I'd be able to live with myself anymore.

What an amazing year this has been so far, eh? This season has surpassed all expectations. I don't think it's a shock that the Suns have been neck and neck with the Mavs for the best record, but what's shocking is how dominating, how consistent they've been with their effort all season long.

First, Steve Nash is showing why he's the reigning MVP. For those that read ESPN frequently and are familiar with John Hollinger, he's been critical of Nash's past two MVP awards. He relies on complex statistics to form most of his opinions, and that's a line of thinking I can respect. However, his basis of criticism is that Nash hasn't been the best player in the NBA statistically, especially on defense, and that you can't really use the "he makes his teammates better" line of reasoning because a) most of the Suns players last year experienced a career high in minutes played, so their statistics were bound to go up, and b) you can use that reasoning with a lot of players - Dirk, Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, etc.

But where I think his criticism falls short is how Nash makes his teammates better in ways that can't be measured statistically. One, he consistently enforces the style of play. It's one thing for coach D'Antoni to create an up-tempo team, but it's Nash's commitment to that style that makes it work. The only other point guard I could see making this work is Jason Kidd, but he's not good enough of an outside shooter to keep teams honest. Two, and along the same lines, he makes it fun for his teammates. Could you imagine this style of play working with Stephon Marbury running the show, or Baron Davis? You can't really measure Nash's decision-making ability, but you can see in their style of play. His focus is on putting the ball in his teammates hands at the right time, and rarely does he fail at this. How easy must it be for Raja Bell or James Jones when all they have to do is make sure they get to the right spot and wait for Nash?

Secondly, how amazing has Amare Stoudemire's comeback been? We were all rightfully skittish at first, especially when his teammates were openly questioning his dedication and his effort. Granted he's still only at about 85% - I don't think we would have seen the 2004 Amare only get 5 shots and 4 points against Kevin Garnett - but he's still almost averaging 20-10 at 85%. I think he's still very ego driven and it's probably hard for him to accept that he's not the star of the team right now, but you really can't ask for anything more from him at this point.

Then there's my man Boris Fuckin Diaw. So it appears the honeymoon is over and we're seeing the real Boris Diaw - a very talented but inconsistent and passive player. It's amazing to see how many times he plays around 36 minutes but still takes less than 8 shots. His biggest problems are that his focus seems to drift too frequently and he relies on having the ball to be active in the game - which isn't going to happen with Nash at the helm and Amare back in the lineup.

Others have been fabulous too - LB, Marion, Raja - there isn't a 6 man lineup in the NBA that's as strong as ours.

The biggest problem this year, as it was last year, is our depth. With Kurt Thomas out we're basically running a 7 man rotation right now. I was excited about the Marcus Banks addition but I just don't think his style of play fits our team. Jumaine Jones was added to be a cheap Tim Thomas replacement, and I know he's been hurt but I'm surprised to see that he hasn't cracked the rotation yet.

But at least we still have Pat Burke, right? I was watching a game a couple of weeks ago with a friend and he asked me "Who's this goofy white guy? And why does he keep launching threes? And why is the crowd cheering for him so loudly?" He just doesn't get it. It cracks me up when even the Suns' big stars are laughing when he comes in the game. What an odd job that must be - getting paid several thousands of dollars to play basketball only when the coach knows there's no chance you're losing the game, only to have the crowd AND your own team cheering for you, albeit sympathetically, to make a shot. It's almost like he won some Make-A-Wish contest to be a Suns player for a day.

Anyways, I'm super stoked for this next game against the Spurs. The biggest criticism I've heard during the 17 game streak is that it doesn't prove we can beat the best teams. But even the best teams will tell you how difficult it is to win 17 games in a row PERIOD, regardless of who you're playing. Would the streak be more impressive if we had a win against Dallas or San Antonio orL.A. Of course. But teams like Detroit, Houston, Cleveland, Chicago, they're no slouch either. And it's not like Dallas destroyed us when we played them - it was only a two point loss. If we hit one more three pointer in that game, and if Gilbert Arenas doesn't make that amazing layup at the end of regulation, we're looking at a 34 game winning streak right now. And you can't criticize that.

I haven't been this excited about a Suns team since, well, last year. But I think these winning streaks we've been on are a testament to the team's focus this year. If the Suns make it to the finals this year, I guarantee I'm making the trip back to AZ to party with everyone. I've spent 16 years waiting for the Suns to get their first championship, and I hate to get ahead of myself, but I think this might be th.......

No, I'm not gonna say it yet. I'm not going to be a jinx.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home