It’s a trap! – Admiral Ackbar screamed to the Suns as he watched the Blazers scare the Mavs on National TV while the Suns were opening a premature victory champagne in Houston. Make no mistake, the Portland Trailblazers may have blown up their roster, disappointed in their bad luck (if it was luck, rather than lack of care), they may have shut down LaMarcus Aldridge — who I’m pretty sure we’ll be asking to free this time next year, and they may have decided (a few months late, as any Blazers blogger would assure you) to shut down Raymond “The Michelin Man” Felton. Sure, this means that the Blazers will try to pull this win out with a resurgent J.J. Hickson, Nolan Smith, Jonny Flynn, Luke “Chalupas” Babbitt and Hasheem “The Nightmarish Dream” Thabeet. That, and guys like Wes Matthews and Nic Batum who are hard to laugh at.
Sure, this roster doesn’t really look imposing, particularly on a second night of a back-to-back, but with the Suns possibly loosening up, this can be another trap game.
Granted, so far the Suns haven’t really had much trouble with the Kings (whom I labeled a trap every time), but they did lose a few gimmes to the Warriors, Raptors, et cetera. All of them at home. And while the Blazers roster (did I mention that they are coached by 34 year old Kaleb Canales? No. Well, now you know) doesn’t want to listen to their management and elegantly go down in flames. Every single guy is fighting for something, be it roster spots for next season, a contract, or minutes. And when that happens on an inferior team, you know you’re going to get in trouble. The Suns cannot allow themselves to do what the Mavs have done Friday and sleep on the Blazers, allowing them to do whatever they want, just because they’re winning big, or thinking about the next game. If the Suns lose this game, we might as well pronounce the season dead, since it’s going to be hard to win with both Oklahoma City and the Clippers in the upcoming stretch.
So essentially, the recipe is simple: Don’t give them the tiniest sliver of hope. Do what San Antonio has done with the Suns, run over them early and then just keep making sure they don’t stand up and try to fight.
The season may end tonight, if the Suns fail to realize how easy it is to falter against inferior teams. Feel warned.
Very fortunate scheduling has the Rockets and the Nuggets in a home-and-home. Should the Rockets lose to the Nuggets as they did last night, the Suns would tie at 8th, all while having the tie-breaker by virtue of conference wins.
Dallas might seem as if they’re in the clear, but in fact, they’re far from that. In their last 5 games, the Mavs (up 2.5 games on the Suns) only have one easy game, and that’s the trapalicious Warriors team. They also finish the season on the road against Chicago and Atlanta. This might come down to the last contest of the season.
Speaking of which, the Rockets don’t have the easiest schedule either. Sure, they have two probable wins with the Hornets (who are consistently annoying playoff/near-playoff teams by beating them, some way, somehow) and the Warriors (again). The Nuggets? Glad that you’ve asked, their easiest game of the stretch comes against the Timberwolves, and they’ll have to face the Suns at US Airways Center. Not exactly all that fun for them, either.
So yes, in essence, this season can go down to the last game, which the Suns play against San Antonio at home. Here’s hoping that Pop rests his guys.