I recall reading a comment in the preview from someone that went like this:
"If the Suns lose this, they don't deserve to be in the playoffs."
And that was a truth that any Suns fan knew. Perhaps the easiest game left on the schedule, a home game Vs. Portland. An easy victory coupled with a little luck (Denver taking out Houston) could place the Suns in a tie for the WC 8th seed.
Los Suns jumped out to a 35-24 first quarter lead. After some Luke Babbitt and Nolan Smith nonsense, the Suns restored order, going on an 11-2 second quarter run. Channing Frye scored 11 quick points, and the Suns played a modicum of defense to slow the Blazers and exit the half with a 66-53 lead. Steve Nash dished 10 assists in his first 17 minutes of play, and every Suns starter save Nash scored in double figures.
The Suns extended their lead to 19 on an 8-0 3rd quarter run. The starters shared the rock, taking turns hitting shots like it was a preseason game against the NAU Lumberjacks. Jared Dudley added 8, Channing Frye, 7. The Suns concluded the 3rd with 31 points, their third consecutive quarter of 30 points or more, while shooting 62% from the field.
HELLO 8 SEED!
* Editorial Note by Omaha Sun: Tonight's victory extended the Suns' undefeated streak when the Bright Side's own Watdogg has his art featured on the Suns Free Throw cover. Keep it up Dustin!
"Here we are and we are not out of it no matter what.
We have got to thrive on it and enjoy it and see what we can do here."
- Steve Nash
I have saved the "must-win" drama until now. But tonight, the Suns must win against the Portland Trailblazers. Period. Because this may be as easy an opponent as the Suns will encounter for the duration of the season.
Aaaaand, the Nuggets must beat the Rockets. O.K., maybe not must, but it would certainly help, and the Suns could claim the 8th seed -- for a moment at least -- and we will rejoice and sing and dance!
So, about the depleted Blazers, here are some facts:
Our buddies over at the Bedge have a prediction for us (thank you, Dave):
The Suns are deep, they're motivated, they're skilled, and they're home. This has all the signs of an absolute massacre. I'm struggling to find any way the Blazers can find an advantage here. Even if they score big with guards those same guards will let the Suns have the points right back. Offensive rebounding could be a point of attack I suppose. Hit a billion threes? I don't know.
There has been no word on Steve Nash's hip situation, although the quotes seem to be alluding to the fact that he is probable at the moment. Stay tuned for more on that.
As for the rest of the Suns, hopefully Grant Hill is feeling better with some rest, and we must expect the remainder of the squad to be angry, hungry, with their eyes focused on what is directly in front of them-the current foe, PTL. If the Suns go out and play their game, they should be fine. Like Elvis said, "Take Care of Business." Let Denver and Houston do their thing, and if the NBA gods want it to happen, the Suns will benefit from the outcome of that match-up.
Elvis' plane, The "Lisa Marie":
[Note by Wil Cantrell, 04/16/12 12:59 PM MST ]
Paul Coro reports Nash to play tonight, Hill will NOT.