Preview: Phoenix Suns (38-41) at Dallas Mavericks (54-25)

Dallas Mavericks 115, Phoenix Suns 90

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With the postseason out of the question, is there really much left to play for? Is it worth it to keep running the starters out there and playing them 30 or more minutes, risking injury?

Ask Suns coach Alvin Gentry or any player on the team and you’d almost certainly get nothing but “yes.”

With just three games left, the Suns are playing for pride. If they win them all, they finish .500 and avoid a losing season. For a team one year removed from a Western Conference Finals run, that may be a hard pill to swallow, but it means something. The Suns went all in this season with what they had and it didn’t pan out, but being able to say they were not a losing team is worth fighting for.

It’s hard to argue that giving Steve Nash significant time is a great idea right now, considering his recent frailty, but he is a competitor and if he is able to, he’ll suit up for a game and demand to play in it. As The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro writes, Nash cares little about his possible assists title with the Suns out out of the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean he’s calling it a season just yet. Neither are his teammates.

“We’re going to play the season out,” forward Hakim Warrick told after Friday’s loss to the Hornets. “No matter what, we’re going to continue to go out there and compete.”

When the Mavericks are on the opposing bench, there’s always a little extra to play for. They’re the Mavericks. The No. 3 seed Mavericks. The Suns could play spoilers to the Mavericks’ seeding with a win, as the two, three and four seeds are within two games of each other.

Vince Carter may have summed up the season perfectly (Vince Carter did something perfectly?!) in his postgame remark Friday that the Suns’ Achilles’ heel has been holding leads late in games. Yes, Vince. Yes it has. The Sacramento Kings would agree. A few games here and there without the blown leads and this could be a playoff team.

“It’s very disappointing, because I feel that we’re a good enough team to first of all be in the playoffs; and, we’re a good enough team to establish a lead and really build on that, and we haven’t really done a great job of that,” Carter said after his 14-point night.

The Suns will try to avoid an 0-for-the season against the Mavericks tonight. Their greatest struggle against Dallas this year has been controlling the pace of the game. The Mavericks routinely set the tone and the Suns end up playing from behind.

Additionally, the Suns just haven’t been able make their three-pointers fall. The Mavericks have held the Suns to 11-of-56 shooting on three-pointers this season for 19.6 percent. That’s a team that can regularly hit 11 long balls in a game, yet they’ve made that in three games. The Mavericks are also one of just seven teams to hold the Suns to an average of less than 100 points in their meetings (did ANYONE think the Pistons would do that, too?).

Many Suns fans are already looking ahead to the offseason and a possible rebuild, and it’s hard to blame them for it. In fact, plenty of analysts probably are, too. But not the Suns.  For a few more days, the 2010-11 Suns have something to fight for.

Tags: Dallas Mavericks Phoenix Suns Preview

  • Mel.

    Oh, VC. If only there were some identifiable reason for why this has been the case, especially since that Orlando trade…

  • Larry

    Yes, because it’s all 100% Vince’s fault. The Suns were so elite before the trade. Oh wait, they were only 12-13 before the trade. So much for that retarded theory.

    You win as a team, you lose as a team. It’s no one player’s fault they haven’t been able to hold leads. Everyone shares equal responsibility.

  • sun also rises

    Wherever there’s a post questioning VC, there’s an idiot running to defend him. The guy is a cancer, and anybody who tries to act like that isn’t the case is way more retarded than fans who are counting the days until he gets traded.

    Nice try tho. :-D

  • Larry

    >>Wherever there’s a post questioning VC, there’s an idiot running to defend him.<<

    And whenever there's a post defending VC, there's an idiot running to attack him. See that? It works both ways.

    And if that was too subtle for you, that makes you the idiot.

  • sun also rises

    Wow, you mad or just schizophrenic? I’m gonna laugh a little bit more, but you can keep posting and digging yourself a deeper hole.

    Note that VC defenders aren’t just stupid as the day is long, but they also need anger management classes.

  • Larry

    No, you are apparently the one who needs anger management classes. Why else would you be calling me an idiot unprovoked? I didn’t say anything about you, so why would you insult me? Other than uncontrollable anger, I can’t think of a single reason.

    Apparently you’re one of these morons who thinks that only your opinion is right, and that anyone who disagrees with you must be an “idiot”. That says more about your lack of intelligence than it does mine.

    Now I’m gonna sit back and laugh a little bit more. But you can keep posting and digging YOURSELF a deeper hole.

  • Larry

    PS, you never answered my question. I asked, if I’m an idiot, what does that make you? Why won’t you answer the question?

  • larry is an assclown

    damn Larry….. you embarrasing

  • Tony

    What another fantastically played game by the Phenix Cavaliers, oops my mistake, the Phoenix Suns. To all the Sarver defenders out there, especially Sun rises and Rich, time to eat some crow. Bender had the nerve to actually claim that the starting lineup the Suns are using now, with Nash, Dudley, Hill, Frye, and Gortat is likely the starting lineup for next season. I give him credit though for trying to sell that to Suns fans without laughing.

  • Larry

    >>damn Larry….. you embarrasing<<

    Wow. You took my name, and made a name mocking it. I get it. How (expletive deleted) clever.

  • sun also rises

    lol. You still going to claim that you aren’t talking to yourself in here, Tony? I don’t know why you have to create two posting names (er, I guess one is the “bad cop” who breaks board rules by swearing and the other is the “good cop” who insults people and then tries to make sense) but you should really space out the responses more to try to sell the lie. This is pretty obvious, and real sad.

    Also, I would love for you to show me a single post where I defended Sarver on these blogs. EVER. I’ll wait a few, you can take your pills, quiet the voices in your head and then get back to me.

    Or you can have “Larry” do it. Whatever one of your personalities you want to handle things, I’m good.

  • joe

    Here’s Larry, the remarkably noble genius who would never attack someone unprovoked… oh wait, the first comment he made was to call someone retarded.

    Here’s Larry, the hypocritical internet bully with a potty mouth and anger issues…

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    I don’t understand why it’s time for “me to eat crow.”

    Anybody who has been reading this Truehoop Network Suns site for the last year and a half knows that I have been predicting, (and supporting) a Suns rebuilding project after this season.

    To be accurate, I actually wanted it to begin after last season ended because, (even though I was the clear minority at the time), I knew Amare was gone and with the inflated free agent class this past off-season, I knew we would not be able to bring in the proper pieces to continue to compliment a Nash-driven offense.

    Also, [Tony] you mentioned in another thread that I “overlooked” the Dragic trade.

    You’ve got to be new. Everybody who reads this site on a regular basis knows that I killed Sarver, (in text – I’m not in prison), for the Dragon + Draft pick termination.

    I loved Dragic for this team. I was actually called a relative of his for backing him so heavily. Anyway…

    I can see that you’re a “fan” in the true sense of the word. Kind of blind to anything that’s under the surface.

    That is evident just by looking at how you compare the Suns organization to the Cavs. The Cavs have no plan, no players, and took on Baron Davis’ dead-whale contract for no reason really.

    Phoenix, meanwhile, has everything needed, (including a starting center – a REAL one), to run a decent core and starting point out there next season while also having the benefit of being able to drop salary in line with the next big free agent season.

    People complain about Sarver, and yeah he did some real stupid things. Just remember what he was dealing with. He tried to keep things going for the Nash era, but now that is a dead issue as, in my opinion, the Nash era will end sometime this off season. And you know what? It’s the right thing to do.

    Nash, Hill, Carter, Brooks, RoLo, and Pietrus all appear to be on the way out for various reasons. I support all of those guys leaving, (minus Pietrus perhaps if he’s okay with backing J Chil).

    So, as I said before, I’m not going to jump back on that I-Hate-Sarver bandwagon until after he’s done releasing and trading these guys. Then we take a look at the haul he brings back, (draft picks mostly and youth), who he drafts, and how they fit in with the new direction of the team.

    If he bombs that, then yes. 100% hatred. If not, then you’ve got to give him some credit.

  • Steve

    I was wondering if Rich would ever counter that “overlooking” comment on the Dragic trade. There was no Suns fan on earth more furious about that trade than Rich.

    I didn’t even like Dragic all that much, and I was furious about the trade. Nearly every Suns fan was… but that doesn’t mean Sarver is the worst owner in the NBA. We have yet to see the end result of that trade. I highly doubt our plan was to keep either of those guys as our future PG, so Brooks was a move to take some more of the load off of Nash and hopefully enable us to make a playoff push. I think it’s hard to make the argument that Dragic is a better player than Brooks right now. Future, who knows? But right now, I think Brooks was our best shot to make something happen this season. And if management didn’t want to keep Dragic anyways, then why not try to improve your immediate situation?

    Amare was gone. He was not going to come back unless the Suns offered him max, which he clearly isn’t worth. There is no advanced metric that has ever put Amare near the top 5 range (in the single year of 04-05 he probably was, actually, but we know what happened after that, and that was all well before this contract situation. It has been 5-6 years since he has been that good). He’s a star, but not a superstar, similar to Carmelo Anthony. They have an elite skill (offensive prowess), but they aren’t complete, elite players. If we handed Amare $120M, we’d be in the same boat the Hawks are with Joe Johnson.

    So, first, Amare wanted to leave (unless he could get the very max here). Second, he’s not worth what he wanted if he was going to stay here. I don’t even care if his knees end up blowing out. He is not worth the money he demanded even if he gets five more years out of those creaky knees.

    I didn’t like losing Richardson. I thought that after we lost Amare, J-Rich had to be our guy… but it was pretty evident after the first 25 games that J-Rich simply isn’t the guy. He’s not ever going to be the man for a team because he’s just not good enough. So, in light of the fact that he couldn’t be utilized in the way we needed him, I’m totally in favor of turning him into Marcin Gortat, a better building block for the future.

    So, the two moves that I hear most Suns fans complaining about over the others, I don’t even think Sarver blew. I think he made the right call.

    Look at the man’s record as an owner and tell me he’s terrible. That should be the real judge. His record.

  • Bobby T.

    I like how Tony has given up on trying to make sense and is now ridiculing the team like some butthurt Boston fan.

    Seriously, why are you even here?

  • Alfredo

    I would give Chauncey Billups a max contract before I give it to Amare and his many injuries hes had. I respect Sarver for realizing that and not putting this franchise in a position where the Knicks have been for so many years and maybe more to come! Look point being if it weren’t for all these horrible deals we would have never found the gem we got in GORTAT! I’m not claiming him The Messiah, but this guy is a straight beast in his first year seeing consistent minutes! Dragic for Brooks… I will take Brooks play this year over Goran, as far as the future no one can judge that one, its impossible to say Goran was going to be the next Nash, just like maybe Greg Oden was going to the next Wilt Chamberlin. No one knows! This team is only a few pieces from being a playoff team! And in the Western Confernce if your in the dance anyone has a shot!