The Phoenix Suns may have lost their triple-overtime battle at the Washington Wizards, but they continued to show something hat had been missing during much of the losing they faced this season: heart.
The makeup of the Phoenix Suns’ roster is made up of young, generally inexperienced players, with a Christmas cookie-like sprinkling of veterans to help add a little color to a generally palatable although prosaic cookie.
Teams with young rosters like the Suns can often run into two very distinctive problems: over-energy when players do not know how to save their steps and thus play out of control; and the result of that first problem: selfish play based off of such poor overall team play.
Why should I trust my teammate to do the right thing when we’re constantly down 20 when I can get my own?
When this happens, the “heart” that is necessary to keep a team in game when the going gets tough can be lost as all players begin to seek their own rather than stick to a team-based formula that while more difficult, is guaranteed to produce better results.
Since the start of this now snapped four-game winning streak (and even since the acquisition of Kelly Oubre Jr. and the addition-by-subtraction of Trevor Ariza), the Phoenix Suns have begun to gel in a way that we have not seen in many years, and in doing so has shown the heart to stick together and battle to the end.
With these victories (and even the triple-overtime loss to the Washington Wizards), the team has finally given fans a reason to be even more sanguine as we head into Christmas, as the lack of heart and energy and over abundance of selfish play that had been the calling card, of this roster in much of the losing leading up to now – an obvious flaw for teams to exploit – has been replaced by a team who seems to care, who finally wants to win, and who is willing to fight to do it.
This is the mark of a team that is finally on the rise, the theme of the PR moniker given to this season when (for some reason) everyone thought that the additions of Deandre Ayton, Ariza, and Ryan Anderson was somehow going to mean that this team is done with the rebuild.
And while it has taken nearly three months of the season to reach a point of respectability among the fanbase, the Suns are showing fans what they truly wanted all along: be competitive in their losses, enough to breath life into an otherwise seemingly near-dead franchise.
Loses suck, and of course all fans would prefer to win. But while Suns ownership and PR wanted us to believe that the team was finally done rebuilding, the fanbase isn’t anywhere near as dumb as to have believed that whole-heartedly.
While some of us (myself included), did have a pie-in-the-sky prediction of this season’s regular season record, everyone (myself included) still believed that if the team was losing but finally competitive in those losses, that we would be seeing the light finally beginning to shine at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
With a four-game winning streak in the books and a hyper-competitive triple-overtime loss at Washington the bookend to a nice little stretch, fans should begin to hold the young Phoenix Suns to this expectation of competitiveness and scoff at the notion that more blowout losses are on the horizon (barring injuries of course).
Competitive losses are okay and wins are great, but showing heart and the desire to win, is what will make this team worth watching over the course of the rest of this season, and breath hope into the lungs of the fanbase, that now, they truly are, on the rise.