The best thing that could have ever happened to the Phoenix Suns as it pertains to tonight’s game in New Jersey against the lowly Nets went down Monday in East Rutherford: the home team shocked the mighty San Antonio Spurs.
Now I understand that the Spurs were playing on the second half of a back-to-back and were missing Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but it will get the attention of every member of the Phoenix Suns that the silver and black went down to the Nets.
The Suns will also be visiting New Jersey on the second night of a back-to-back after defeating the Bulls last night in Chicago, and the Nets enter on a winning streak by their standards at least, having won three of four overall and their last three in the IZOD Center. They could be in for a letdown after clinching not becoming the NBA’s losingest team ever on Monday.
Phoenix enters hot for reals having won eight in a row and 22 of 27, but that’s no reason to overlook the worst team in basketball after what they just did to the Spurs, considering that a game against the Nets counts the same in the standings as a game against San Antonio.
The Suns also would be much more equipped to make this an easy game if they could defend New Jersey star center Brook Lopez (team-high 19.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.76 bpg) with a guy who looks and sounds a little bit like him. But alas his twin Robin is back in Phoenix treating his injured back, so it will be up to Jarron Collins and Co. to slow down Lopez.
Despite all of this talk about no letdown against the Nets, I would sit Steve Nash in this one. Wouldn’t even let him board the plane, I’d send him right to Detroit. (On second thought, I would have him stay in Chicago until the team was headed to Motown. No reason to stop in that city any longer than need be).
Nash has been suffering from back spasms, and although he was clutch down the stretch and finished with a Nash-like 22 and 10 against the Bulls, he hit just 8-of-20 shots and didn’t seem to have that bounce in his step.
Four games in five nights isn’t easy for anyone at this juncture of the season, and if taking a day can help Nash maintain and go strong the rest of the way, it’s the right decision, especially since it would give more time to Leandro Barbosa. The fact that it splits up the road trip and is against a team that had lost eight in a row before the current winning “streak” is all gravy.
But this game isn’t about the Nets, it’s about the Suns. Entering play Wednesday, successive half games separate the Nos. 2-5 teams in the West, with the Suns sandwiched in the No. 4 spot between the Jazz and Nuggets, a full game back of Dallas.
It’s not every day that you get to play a 10-64 team, so the Suns have to make sure they take full advantage of that.