The past four years when Phoenix has been eliminated from the playoffs, Suns fans have had a few days to wallow in their misery without thinking about basketball before getting on with their lives.
Yes, we all know Alvin Gentry doesn’t believe the season is over, but after Tuesday’s practically season-ending loss to Dallas, Suns fans will have had less than 48 hours to pull themselves together before watching their team take on the Beasts of the East to start an 18-game preseason-ish slate to wind down the year.
And for those of us who follow Arizona basketball as well, the void in our basketball lives is even worse.
What I’ll be watching in this game is to see if the Suns compete.
Yes, there have been some mental lapses and an inability to get stops down the stretch, but by and large the effort has been there even as the Suns have lost five heartbreaking games in a row.
Tonight I think we’ll see if the team believes it can still take a stab at catching Dallas despite the 5 1/2 games that separate the two teams, or if they have just paid lip service to the possibility. Actions do speak louder than words after all.
Grant Hill will get the call on covering LeBron James, and with the King working on consecutive triple-doubles, I don’t see anything the Suns do being able to contain him. Then, of course, there is Mo Williams, who went for a career-high 44 points the last time these teams got together.
It would be terribly strange if the Suns bookended this season-crippling five-game losing streak with home wins over the top two teams in the league, but it would be a nice way to keep hope in the home locker room.
That’s assuming, of course, that there’s any hope left to be kept.