So this is what the Suns saved Shaq for?
An 11-26 Minnesota squad?
When he could have been the difference against the Nuggets?
The last time the Suns played the Wolves it was also as the second game of a back-to-back, and Phoenix held Shaq out of the first game of that set as well.
But that one made sense, with the Suns facing (and nearly losing to I might add) the hapless, interior-deficient Oklahoma City Thunder.
This time around the Suns played what could prove to be a critical Western Conference matchup at Denver, and in an overtime game in which the Suns shot too many jump shots in a physical battle, you can’t convince me Shaq wouldn’t have made the difference.
Ever since I first heard about the Rest-a-Shaq plan I questioned how it would be decided which game Shaq sits, especially after Vinny Del Negro used Shaq sitting against his Bulls as his pregame speech before Chicago throttled the Shaq-less Suns.
Deciding whether Shaq sits against Chicago or Milwaukee matters about as much in the grand scheme of things as Robin Lopez picking up two first quarter fouls, but the difference between playing against a Denver team that ranks second in the West and a Minnesota team 11 games out of a playoff spot matters as much as Amare getting into early foul trouble.
TNT’s commentators questioned the move because it would mean Shaq will now have to play three games in four days, but I bet the Daddy sits Sunday morning’s game in Toronto anyway.
OK, so in the Suns’ defense Denver doesn’t have a post force like Minnesota’s Al Jefferson, who averages 22.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg. Even with Shaq in the middle, Jefferson went for 28 and 17 in the first meeting after torching the Suns for averages of 30.5 and 15.3 last season.
He even led the Wolves to five straight wins to begin the month before dropping a three-point contest to Miami on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, I’m still a bit concerned about Steve Nash’s minutes. Nash played a season-high 46 minutes (he missed the other OT game, but still).
I wonder if that means he may get a bit more bench time in this one than usual, especially with that six-game Eastern swing coming up, starting with a contest in Nash’s native land.
But you can’t complain about Nash’s production against the Nuggets, as he scored 20 points on 5-for-10 shooting (4-for-5 threes, 6-for-6 free throws), dished 14 assists and grabbed seven boards (although he also committed six TOs).