Saw this stat on Sportscenter today... it's only taken them 34 games to reach 30 wins, only the Bulls (33) reached that mark in a shorter amount of time. I knew they were doing great, but not that great.
So, the million dollar question is: are they legit title contenders? I still have my doubts about them succeeding in the playoffs against the likes of the Spurs with a small lineup, but their athleticism makes up for their lack of size... plus the West doesn't look as intimidating as it once did. Minnesota is struggling mightily, the lower-tier teams like Houston, Denver, Portland, and Utah haven't made any noise (if any) in terms of stepping up to make a run in the playoffs... so right now the contenders in the West look to be the Spurs, Suns, Sonics (although I still have plenty of doubts), Kings, and Mavs... can the Suns get through those other teams, and whoever *cough*Miami*cough* comes out of the east?
I think the fact their losses came against the Spurs, the Wolves and the Kings is a bad sign. The Spurs loss is the most worrying for the Suns I'd say. They rely alot on shots dropping early and if someone is in their face from the get go, I think they could struggle. Recaps from Suns games tend to read along the lines of "The Suns set the tempo early and team B never recovered" Conventional thinking says that style isn't going to win playoff games, unless you are the Mid-late 80s Lakers.
I think it would be the best thing for the sport itself if the Suns can beat the old Bulls record. The Suns are proving that basketball is ultimately a TEAM sport, which is why they have basketball's best record while the Lakers, who revolve around one star, are mired in mediocrity. The reason the Suns (or you can even make an argument for the Clippers' improbable early success here) catching fire is because they've managed to play good team basketball and fundamental defense. If anything, it could (hopefully) start a new trend in the NBA.
I'm still not convinced that smallball works in the playoffs, but if they don't run themselves into the ground in April, they might prove the exception to the rule. But what you'll see is a plan similar (at least to start) to what Miami had in mind in the 1st quarter of that game, which is clog the inside and make them settle for jump shots. The only problem is that last night they were hitting absolutely everything so when Miami pinched out to try and contest the outside a little more, that's when Phoenix turned it into a track meet and just absolutely smoked them. I was impressed.
Oh, and Eddie Jones couldn't guard his mother if she was coming around a curl.
(edited by Blanket Jackson on 12.1.05 1640) ""Get out of my face, or you'll see what I'm like!"
Figures that a few days after I make this thread, Nash gets injured and they go on a 3-game losing streak. Scary stat of the night for Phoenix: against the Wizards, they had zero bench points. That's an obvious weakness that they're going to have to address via trade if they consider themselves to be championship contenders this year... especially with the regular starters playing upwards of 35 minutes per game. They have a lot of young guys with potential like Barbosa, Jacobsen, Hunter, and Lampe... but not really a veteran presence that can consistently come off of the bench and give them quality minutes, especially in the playoffs.
The Nets have to be the favorite in the East this year. With Mutombo and Kidd they have the best center and point guard in the East. Kidd isn't going anywhere. The Nets will give him whatever he wants.