Tonight begins the Suns’ 28-game test. They’ll face an Atlanta Hawks team on the second night of a back to back. coming off a thrashing at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers last night. With the Suns needing every win to reach the playoffs this year, this seems like good news – teams playing for the second night in a row usually face a loss.
The Suns, however, will need to come out focused and on fire – they’re 6-9 on the season against teams playing for the second time in as many nights. Furthermore, the Hawks were 1-for-15 on three pointers last night, something the Suns can’t count on happening again. Even slight regression to the mean from deep, especially in the first quarter, could put the Suns in a quick hole. They will do their best to hassle Atlanta’s shooters, as the Suns trail only the Celtics and Heat in allowed field goal percentage over the past ten games. Yes, it’s true – the Suns are largely getting the job done of late (they’re 12-6 in their last 18 games) on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
Goran Dragic, in particular, will need to step his game up. Zabian Dowdell will miss tonight’s action with flu-like symptoms, so Alvin Gentry won’t have the advantage of choosing the backup point guard with the hot hand tonight.
I don’t want to overreact to the news of the past 24 hours, Suns fans, but…
Nothing in the NBA comes easy, unless you’re Eddy Curry on the prowl for pasta or hunting for hamburgers. However, the Suns’ path to the playoffs became significantly easier with the trade of Deron Williams from Utah to the New Jersey Nets. The Jazz may not be done dealing yet, but they’ve clearly given up on this season in favor of building a “Ty Corbin” team – whatever that ends up being. That’s one less team standing between the Suns and the playoffs, but they still have to execute. No one is going to hand this team a postseason opportunity.