It’s me. Yer old pal Señor Sun-N-Gun. And I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. You’re wrong about a lot of things, people, but this is a place where we avoid most of those things you’re wrong about most of the time and talk about basketball. Specifically, we talk about the Suns. So let’s talk about the Suns.
The Suns lost Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, and this loss was a big’un because it meant they lost the series to the hated Lakers and the hated Phil and the hated Kobe. Well, not everybody hates Phil. I mean, Señor Sun-N-Gun does not like Phil most of the time, but he can not help but appreciate Phil’s wry demeanor and sarcastic responses to stupid questions and his general I’m-better-than-you attitude. Usually I hate that kind of crap, but for some reason I appreciate it when Phil does it. Don’t ask me why.
Kobe, on the other hand, is a different story. I know he’s a good player…and he may even be a great player (just kidding, I know he is). But all this talk about how he might be the greatest player in the NBA? Pass. I mean, I could make this about stats and all that kind of stuff, but that’s not what this post is about. Kobe just doesn’t do it for me. Closer? Sure, about 30% of the time. He makes a lot of late-and-close shots because he takes more than anybody else! It’s not like he makes a lot of the ones he takes…because he doesn’t.
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that the Lakers won and the Suns lost. The Lakers will now move on to every pundit’s dream matchup against the Celtics. Every dingus sportswriter in America can now write his or her (!) obligatory column featuring his or her squeals of orgasmic delight over the great Lakers playing the great Celtics for history. Way to go, guys. But here’s what gets me…allow me to sum up the vast majority of columns and blogs and what-have-you I’ve read about the Lakers and the Suns:
Well, the Suns (otherwise known as “The Little Engine That Could”) put up a valiant fight, but in the end, they just couldn’t get it done against the Mighty Lakers (otherwise known as “Goliath” or “Godzilla” or “The Mountain” if you want to keep the “Little Engine” analogy going, which would mean that in this version of the story, the Mountain beats the Wee Engine into submission). The Lakers were just Too Big and Too Strong and Too Good and Too Much and the Suns were simply Overmatched and Too Small and Too Weak and Just Not Good Enough to beat the Big, Bad Lakers. I mean, I think we can all recognize that it was just great the way the Suns tried super-hard and really tried their best and almost got Steve Nash there and Boy! wouldn’t that’ve been great if they coulda done it fer ol’ Steve but they couldn’t because the Lakers were just too good and anyway none of that really matters in the end because now we all get to move on to the matchup we really wanted all along. And also, the Suns really just overachieved this season anyway because if you look back to the beginning of the season, nobody thought they’d be worth a damn and they by far outstripped everyone’s expectations.
Um…no. Let’s kick it off with this: sportswriters and pundits are imbeciles (with a few notable exceptions, of course). Here’s how they pick playoff teams before the year starts:
- Look at last year’s playoff teams in each conference.
- Copy and paste into “Predictions” column.
- Remove one team (either the 6, 7, or 8 seed) and replace with a lottery team from the year before. Declare this team the “sleeper”.
- Switch a couple teams’ playoff positions. Swap #1 and #2, and #7 and #8. If the guy is feeling wild, he’ll swap #3 with #6. This will cause people to think he’s “radical”.
- Click “Submit”.
The thing is, in basketball, this usually works. The NBA is the single worst league in professional sports as far as putting together a diverse group of teams each year into the playoffs. It really is that easy to pick the playoff teams. So, naturally, the Suns were not picked by a lot of those guys. Makes sense.
Unfortunately for them, the season started. And the Suns got off to an incredible start (14-3, in case you’ve forgotten). And then they slumped. And all the morons said, “I told you so.” But they were wrong, as morons generally are. The Suns put that weirdy Robin Lopez into the lineup and won something like 47 of their last 48 regular season games (actual number may be exaggerated as Señor Sun-N-Gun has decided he’s too lazy to look up the actual figure [though you'll notice that he was not too lazy to switch his keyboard over to Spanish so as to insert his tilde. Señor Sun-N-Gun loves his tilde]).
What I’m really trying to say is that the Suns were a damn good team. In fact, if you just look at the numbers (and I’m talking about the real numbers, not any of that per-game crap that we all know is flawed because it ignores pace), the Suns were easily one of the top five teams in the league over the entire season, and especially over the last three months of the season. That’s maths right there.
Now, the Suns didn’t slow down when they got to the playoffs, even though many of you haters out there insisted that they would. I mean, there were people (*cough, TrueHoop, cough*) who picked the Blazers to win in the opening round of the playoffs. And the Suns let you think that maybe that was going to happen by playing a couple of absolute crap games. But hey, they stomped ‘em when they had to.
The Suns moved on to play the Spurs. The Suns didn’t beat the Spurs. They annihilated the Spurs. They crushed the Spurs. They beat them in every conceivable way, and in a four-game sweep to boot. You know what that mean? That means the Suns are a good team. Sure, the Spurs were not as good as they had been in the past. But they were still a team that had won a playoff series already. And the Suns made them look like a pile of puke.
So the series finished against the Spurs, and there was much rejoicing in SunsLand, and a great deal of “meh” everywhere else. Because everybody knew that the little ol’ Suns could never beat the Big Bad Lakers no matter how hard they tried. I mean, there were a few dudes that picked the Suns, but they were dismissed as either “losers” or “dreamers”.
Some of us looked at the stats. And you know what the stats said? They said the Suns were at least as good as the Lakers. They were both middling in some areas and exceptional in others. They said the Suns played decent basketball against a pretty decent Blazer squad and then absolutely crushed a pretty good Spurs team. They said the Lakers played decent basketball (with a couple of 8-on-5 games) against OKC and then crushed a pretty good Utah team. In fact, some of us, just looking at the stats, thought that maybe the Suns would continue their run by just going ahead and crushing the Lakers. Señor Sun-N-Gun thought that.
That’s not what happened, obviously. Why? Well, there were a couple of reasons. First, the Lake Show got a big helping hand in the third quarter of Game 1. Big helps from the officials. The Suns forgot to show up in Game 2. And that was pretty much it, right? I mean, you go down by a couple games and that really queers the deal, doesn’t it? They still had a chance in Game 5, and decided to just piss it away instead.
But I digress. Because here’s the thing that gets me: the Suns should have won this series. And there were three reasons that they didn’t.
- They didn’t bother to show up in couple of games.
- Alvin Gentry did a crap job of coaching on the fly.
- Robin Lopez was still hurt.
Number one is easy: they didn’t show up. That is a fact. Number two? Well, that gets its own post tomorrow. Number three? Yeah, that one’s gonna have to wait too.
But now you know; the Lakers didn’t beat the Suns…the Suns got beat by the Lakers. It wasn’t on purpose, but they could have–and should have–done better. No more talk of the Suns “trying their best” (although some of them certainly did) or “just not having enough”. Because they had enough. It should be the Suns preparing to play in the Finals right now, and that’s only due to the Lakers taking advantage of the situation, not being “better.” The Suns should’ve won. And that’s a fact.