Time: 7:30 p.m. MST
It was not supposed to go down like this.
Well, actually it kind of was.
At the beginning of the season, the Suns were expected to be bad. Really bad. Tonight’s season finale against the Sacramento Kings was probably expected by most to be a merciful ending to what should have been a wretched season — the ending of something bad to begin something good, a high draft pick.
Boy were we wrong.
This season went a total 180 on the Suns, who turned into one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. The 2013-14 year brought us the emergence of Goran Dragic as an MVP candidate that earned MVP chants, Eric Bledsoe’s glimpses of his star potential, Miles Plumlee’s athleticism, P.J. Tucker’s grit and leadership, Gerald Green’s irrational confidence, and the exciting youth of Archie Goodwin and Alex Len.
A win last Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans put tonight’s game in position as a potential “win and get in” game for the Suns. It was supposed to be a game for all of Phoenix to come together and see if this projected 20-win team could get to win number 50. But the “little team that could” couldn’t finish the deal.
A 21-point lead in San Antonio vanished the night before a second half double-digit lead in Dallas vaporized, leaving a young team in dismay before the Memphis Grizzlies closed the deal Monday night.
Though tonight will not be the kind of exciting night that could have been in the Valley, there’s reason not to ignore the Suns. We should watch this game with a big heart and remember the good times as the Suns run’n’gun for 48 more minutes.
Let’s watch tonight and remember Green’s recent shooting outbursts against Oklahoma City and Portland, or his plethora of high-rising dunks. Let’s remember Tucker’s intensity and defense, because, though the Suns want to bring him back, he will be a free agent. Let’s remember Bledsoe’s game-winning three-point shot against Utah in the season’s first week and the way he managed to take his game to a new level when it mattered the most. He’s also a free agent. Let’s also enjoy the rookies, Goodwin and Len, who should get heavy minutes tonight. Both players have had moments this year that made the future a bit brighter.
Most importantly, let’s remember The Dragon and the way he has crept into superstar status. No, he is not playing tonight with his badly sprained ankle, but that does not mean we can’t spend tonight thinking about all the moments he took the team to another level. You will not find a nicer guy in the entire Suns organization than Dragic, a player who has become a household name in not just Phoenix, but in the NBA.
No, there is nothing on the line tonight, but let’s support this team for its final game. Because remember, they cared about winning when many didn’t think they should. The least we can do is tune in, look back at the good times, but also look ahead to the brighter ones.
How do the rookies end things?
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said after practice on Tuesday that Goodwin and Len will see extended minutes tonight. The two players have combined for just three double-digit games in the Suns last 19 contests, but with the team out of the race there is finally time for them to see the floor. Len started showing signs in March of the potential he brings, both offensively and defensively. He has some nice moves around the basket and has consistently altered shots with his long 7″1′ frame on defense. Goodwin is a rangy player himself with quickness to the basket and high hops. Both players seemingly fit into the team’s future plans so how they do tonight will lend evidence to their potential.
No Cousins, no problem?
Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins is suspended for the game after receiving his 16th technical foul in his last outing, and the Kings are 0-10 when Cousins has not played this year. Cousins averages 22.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game and is a big part of Sacramento’s offense. You would think that should equal a Suns win, but we have seen guys such as Chris Kaman and Jeff Withey dominate the Suns down low.
Who seems to “care” more?
Both teams are going into this game with nothing on the line. Though, I am sure the Suns do not want to end the year on a four-game losing streak. Who shows up is always a crapshoot in a game like this.