Tonight’s game between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs signifies the calm before the storm and the end of an era.
When the final buzzer sounds in San Antonio tonight, fans can officially move on from The Hedo Turkoglu Experiment to the Vinsanity-Air France-Polish Hammer era of basketball.
Robin Lopez will no longer be the only legitimate big man in the rotation. Grant Hill and Steve Nash have a new addition to the 30-and-over club. And when Suns fans think France, they will no longer picture an overweight Boris Diaw with a beret and a baguette.
Times are changing in Phoenix, and the Suns’ newest additions are one game away from showcasing their skills in Alvin Gentry’s offense. The Suns’ facelift is complete, but the new and improved look can’t be revealed just yet.
The Suns will officially test out their new-look squad on Thursday against the Heat when Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus suit up, but an undermanned Phoenix team must try its hand at the league’s top squad first.
The Suns had no problem playing shorthanded on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night, as Grant Hill’s 30 points and 11 rebounds lifted them over Kevin Durant and company.
But squaring off against the NBA’s best team on the tail end of a back-to-back without three soon-to-be rotation players most likely won’t have the same outcome. The San Antonio Spurs are the hottest team in all of basketball, and although the Suns are riding high off an impressive win, a victory will be hard to come by.
Hill most likely won’t have his best game since the 2000-01 season, Robin Lopez probably won’t go 9-for-10 from the field and the Spurs surely won’t miss 22 of their first 30 like the Thunder did. This isn’t to say the Suns don’t have a shot, but the Spurs have been near flawless this season and the Suns have a lot of factors working against them.
It has to be tough hitting on all cylinders when you know lineups and rotations will change in 48 hours. It’s tough to guarantee losses, but I don’t think anyone would be shocked if a tired Suns team looking toward Thursday came out flat and laid an egg against the NBA’s top squad.
The Spurs haven’t lost a game since Dec. 1 and are riding an eight-game winning streak behind their ultra-balanced offensive attack. All five Spurs starters average 10-plus points, with Suns foe Manu Ginobili leading the way at 19.8 per game.
San Antonio is without George Hill due to a sprained knee, but the Spurs have enough capable bodies to fill the void. If the Suns defend like they did against the Thunder and Hill provides another MVP-like performance, the Suns have a puncher’s chance.
But this game figures to lack the intensity of the classic Suns-Spurs rivalry considering the trio of players itching to sport purple and orange. While any game against the Spurs has some serious draw, tonight’s matchup is nothing more than the calm before the storm.
Carter will wear No. 25, Gortat No. 4 and Pietrus No. 12 when they make their Suns debut on Thursday against the Heat.