The Suns are looking at tonight as the start of an eight-game season, a season in which they must go undefeated to even have a chance at a playoff spot.
If they can beat a Houston team tonight that’s on a 17-5 tear, Suns fans can allow themselves to feel a bit of optimism so long as they stay guarded against the disappointment sure to follow in the coming weeks.
The Suns play the NBA’s easiest schedule during their eight-game finish, with those lowly teams boasting a measly winning percentage of .404. And that’s including tonight’s game against a Rockets squad that’s 22 games over .500, Phoenix’s toughest game from here on out.
Trailing by four games with eight to go would still require a miracle in what’s been anything but a dream season, but at least the schedule makes it a possibility as has been discussed ad nauseum on this site.
The Arizona Republic reported that the Suns still will be without Leandro Barbosa (left tibial bruise) after he came out of today’s shootaround very stiff and sore.
Phoenix has really felt his absence during its past two losses, so it’s quite a disappointment he can’t go tonight, especially against a team in Houston that leads the West in defensive efficiency (101.2 points per 100 possessions).
Obviously now the best-case scenario would be for LB to return for Friday’s tuneup game against Sacramento (OK, shouldn’t call it a tuneup when the Kings beat the Suns last time out, but you know what I mean) so that he can at least get his game legs ready for Sunday’s hopefully showdown in Dallas.
On the other side of the floor, the Suns will need to do a better job corralling Houston’s speedy point guard, who torched and the Suns for a career-high 30 points and the game-winner during their last meeting.
Brooks possesses the quickness and shooting ability to break down Phoenix’s defense, making him the X-factor for Houston tonight.
At least the team will be well-rested having gotten two days off following that tough four games in five nights stretch that culminated with their flat effort in Sacramento.
The Suns have won five in a row at home, actually coming up with stops down the stretch to win the last two, so maybe their fresh legs will allow fans to cling to the sliver of hope of a playoff berth for a couple more days.
For more crazy scenarios on how the Suns could still make the playoffs, make sure to check out my entry in today’s Daily Dime.