In January, the Suns lost homes games they should have won against Indiana, Minnesota and Chicago, defeats that were mitigated by the other victories Phoenix recorded against a soft schedule.
If they lose to Toronto tonight at US Airways Center, the Suns will have nothing cushy to fall back on.
Instead they will embark on a brutal four-game trip to Orlando, Miami, Houston and San Antonio after Sunday’s matinee with the Lakers; then they come back home for Dallas and Cleveland.
By comparison, Friday’s contest against a Toronto team that’s 11-20 outside of Canada and in last place in the Atlanta Division should be more of a slam dunk than Chris Bosh eventually leaving the Raptors.
The Suns dispatched Toronto on Jan. 18, their only victory in a brutal six-game stretch, while playing one of their fastest games of Terry Porter’s tenure.
Of course there won’t be an Amare Stoudemire to score 31 points, and if there’s no Steve Nash to dish another 18 assists and keep everything flowing, nobody should be surprised to see the Raptors emerge as victors.
I still think the Suns can beat the Raptors by playing fast with or without Nash, but Chris Bosh will provide major matchup problems. Shaq will have his issues with the lithe Bosh, and you certainly can’t throw the Daddy on sharp-shooting big man Andrea Bargnani.
It’s also worth nothing that Shawn Marion will be making his second Phoenix Homecoming of the season, and that gives Suns fans an excuse to spend two and a half hours Friday mourning how much better Marion fills the undersized four role than a 36-year-old Grant Hill does.
While he’s here, Marion should also reminisce about the good old days when he was one of the best players on one of the best teams in the league before he became an NBA vagabond, soon to be playing for his fourth team within two years after playing his first eight and a half years in the Valley.