As for our Phoenix Suns, does anything more aptly describe their final 12 games than Mortal Kombat? Literally, the Suns are fighting for their playoff lives. The "only" thing separating them from a trip to the postseason is a dozen games, including 8 against playoff bound teams and a brutal 8-day 5-game road trip that features games against the team with the best record in each conference. Metaphorically speaking, they're trying to run the table on one quarter while playing with Johnny Cage (was he any good in the game? Because he's [spoiler alert] totally not in this awesome fake NSFW trailer for a MK movie.).
After bouncing back from the triple OT monster against the Los Angeles Lakers with a nice victory over the Toronto Raptors a couple nights ago, there's little in the way of excuses for not going balls-out over the course of their do-or-die dozen.
The New Orleans Hornets currently sit at the 7 spot in the Western Conference and are 4 games ahead of the Suns in the conference standings. This game looms huge for the Suns' playoff chances and the odds might actually be stacked in their favor for a change. The Hornets are coming off an overtime game versus the Jazz last night, which came at the high price of a potentially serious knee injury to forward David West who led the Hornets with 29 points in the game.
From At The Hive:
At the time of this writing, there's no additional news on the extent of David West's injury. An MRI is pending. It's being widely assumed around the web that he's done for the season, and with only 10 games left to play in the regular season, that seems likely. It's going to be tough for the Hornets to hang on to a playoff seed without West, but it could happen.
For Hornets fans, this is terrible news and I wish Mr. West a speedy recovery. For Suns fans, this is blood in the water and we expect our team to feast. Jump with me into the meaty center of our preview.
Point Guard-a-palooza: Chris Paul versus Steve Nash is always a good time. The over/under on combined assists should be in the neighborhood of 30 or so. There's really not much in the way of slowing down either of these guys, so I expect them both to have stellar games with Paul picking up some of the scoring slack brought on by West's absence.
Fun fact: Steve Nash has 8 20 point, 15 assist games on the season. The rest of the NBA has 7 combined. That means he's pretty good at scoring and passing. Better than a lot of people in fact.
2 Much Vince: At shooting guard, Suns' fan favorite Vince Carter will square off against Marco Belinelli. Marco turns 25 today. Scott Howard has offered up VC as a human birthday candle. I think an "on fire" Vince Carter - in any sense - would be a welcome sight. Vince could have his hands full with the birthday boy though. Despite a 10.4 point per game average, the young Italian shoots 41.5% from behind the arc and recently poured in 23 points against the Boston Celtics.
Losers' Bracket: With both of their alma maters out of the NCAA tourney, I expect both Grant Hill (Duke) and Trevor Ariza (UCLA) to look to take their frustrations out on each other. For all his athleticism, Ariza's decision-making is um... well, let's just say he didn't go to Duke. Look for BAMF to get his BAMF on.
Freaky Frye-day: Channing Frye sat out the Suns' last game (a 100-95 road loss) versus New Orleans with his shoulder injury. You may remember this gem from Wil Cantrell's recap regarding his replacement:
Hakim Warrick: 17 minutes, 0-4, 0 points, 1 rebound, -8. Way to rise to the occasion, Hak. To think I once called you WarMachine this season.
This time, the Suns have the healthy starter and the Hornets are missing a key offensive piece (See? It's like they switched places like in those movies with
Kirk Cameron and Dudley Moore and Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster and Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan! And it's a pun! That's a comedy two-fer right there.) at power forward.
Let's hope we see Laker Channing (32 points, 14 rebounds, massive alloy spheres betwixt his legs) instead of Raptor Channing (14 points, 7 boards, 4-11 shooting).
OHAITHEREEMEKAOKAFOR: So, last time out against the Suns, Emeka Okafor owned the Suns' big men to the tune of 16 points and 11 rebounds (against a combined 11 and 9 from Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez). Since then, he's also added ridiculous 20 foot buzzer beaters to his repertoire.
Lopez and Gortat need to spend their pre-game yelling in each other's faces (you'd pay to see this, yes?) and
setting Vince Carter on fire breaking glass doors other adrenaline-pumping things to get properly amped. They've got their work cut out for them.
Deepest, Purplest, Our Bench Is Like a Shark's Fin: And in the end, this is why Phoenix should win. They are much deeper than the Hornets, especially with the loss of West.
Aaron Brooks, Jared Dudley et al, need to stay hungry and be prepared to finish off what the starters... start. Brooks was big-time versus the Raptors and Dudley was practically the only Sun who showed up against the Hornets in their previous match-up. T
here's blood in the water, fellas... time to make like some underwater locusts and swarm.
TL;DR: A fresher, hungrier, deeper team ought to prevail.
Bear down, y'all, and let fly with your best video game/crappy shark movie/crappy identity switch movie metaphors for the Suns remaining 12 games in the comments.