This is going to be an interesting game. Both teams are struggling with confidence issues, trade talk/rumors... while losing to bottom feeders. Even the Nuggets(20-16) have lost to the Clippers and Kings only they got blown out. See were not the only ones that can't beat crappy teams! That makes you feel better, right?
More after the jump.
This is a game I feel the Suns can steal if they can just play with a little bit more confidence. In fact, maybe that's what it will come down to. I mean the Nuggets have really been struggling recently due to all the Carmelo drama and trade talk. We saw this coming though. For a while they have always been a highly emotional team that tend to give up when things go bad for them. Just ask Sir Charles-
Harrington and Smith will come off the bench for Denver. We all know what those guys can do and I'm sure you all remember Gary Forbes and his 15 points on 5-8 shooting last outing? With no Hill I'm interested to see who will backup Dudley? I really want to see more Chilldress, but than again I feel we need that extra 3-pt threat in Pietrus instead. I expect to see more Warrick tonight-
"I went back and looked at all the games where we’ve been successful and played pretty good, and he’s (Hakim Warrick) had pretty good numbers, so we’ve got to get him back in the rotation. As I said, (we need to) play some consistent minutes with people—not have it go up and down and fluctuate.- Gentry
Play defense, score the ball and win. Simple huh? Well, for the Suns that's asking a lot. Usually they either do one or the other, but rarely we see them do both at the same time. Also, don't let JR Smith get hot. This is a guy that can suck one night and play like a superstar the other. In the last outing he scored 30 points in a 138-133 Denver win. Just guard him and don't give him easy baskets early on, ok. They can't let unknowns like Gary Forbes and Sheldon Williams hurt them either.
I expect this game to go down to the wire. Both teams are evenly matched and overall this should be an exciting one for all ya folks. It's kind of interesting that the Suns get to play Denver and the Nets in b2b's because as you know both teams are coming close to a deal that would send Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey. You'd expect those teams to not be that focused. I'd say this is a perfect opportunity for the them to get a couple wins, gain some momentum and get back on track. The Suns just need to concentrate and have fun.
I'll be honest, I haven't looked at the standings in a long time(I'm sure you know why), but I just did and realized that Phoenix isn't far from catching New Orleans(22-16) for that 6th seed. As bad as they've played they're still very much alive in the playoff race, so there's no reason to give up and call it a season right now.
However, if we continue to lose it may be time for the FO to really think about committing to a full rebuild meaning Nash and Hill get traded. Right now, I'm not quite ready to "Pull the Plug" on this Nash era. I say just give it a couple more weeks and see what happens. Maybe the Suns can steal some games and gain some confidence to get themselves in a good position for the playoffs? If not I wouldn't be against a full rebuild.
More photos » David Zalubowski - AP
Who is the Suns' equivalent Chauncey Billups? (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
For those not totally in the know about Detroit in the 2000s, hit the jump for more detail.
In 2008, Pistons GM Joe Dumars had a successful team that he saw fading. Instead of allowing the slow, agonizing fall to happen on his watch, he decided to retool on the fly.
But what did all that cash and a higher draft pick get the Pistons? Austin Daye, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva (the 2nd and 3rd best FAs that summer after Hedo) and the black-hole future in lottery-land he was desperately trying to avoid.
Joe Dumars made the cardinal mistake. When trying to retool on the fly, he traded his team's heart and soul. You don't trade the straw that stirs the drink!
How does this pertain to the Suns? Eerily.
Depending on how you look at it, the Suns are already rid themselves of that 'straw' (Amare) or are at the precipice right now (Nash).
More history on the Pistons:
From 2003-2008, the Pistons went to 6 consecutive Eastern Conference Finals. They peaked in the 2nd and 3rd seasons after acquiring Rasheed Wallace (2 Finals, 1 Ring. The next three seasons, the Pistons still made the ECF each time but lost. It was clear, they'd reached their peak with that team and some of the core was aging.
In the second week of the 2008-2009 season, GM Joe Dumars - very respected at the time - tried to retool on the fly. He wanted to avoid an agonizing descent into nothingness, even while every one of his core players was on a long contract.
He traded PG Chauncey Billups for PG Allen Iverson's expiring deal, sacrificing the current season while freeing up tons of cash for free agency to supplement his remaining core of Hamilton, Wallace and Prince.
Pundits around the league extolled Dumars for his vision and preplanning. He was going to avoid the Portland, Seattle, Minnesota, Clippers, Warriors doldrums and shoot his team right back to the top with a new star in free agency.
Joe Dumars had a valiant idea - retool on the fly - but his execution was miserable. Why? He traded the ONE GUY he couldn't afford to trade: Chauncey Billups. Billups was the engine. The heart and soul of the Pistons. Without the engine, the car fell completely apart.
Billups went on to lead Denver to his favorite place - the Conference Finals - while Detroit went out in the first round and hasn't made the playoffs in 2 years since. Now, the Pistons are a joke with no future and find themselves still saddled with 2 aging stars (Prince and Hamilton) who "deserve more than their fate".
Does this mirror the current Suns in a way that make you shudder?
Was Amare Stoudemire the Suns' equivalent of Chauncey Billups? Was Amare actually the straw that stirred the drink of the Phoenix Suns, moreso than Nash?
Or is Steve Nash the Suns' equivalent to Chauncey?
In my opinion, it's the latter. The Pistons were rudderless after trading Billups. The Suns are not. But either way, the Suns are looking at the abyss of lottery land with no future stars on their roster unless the new Front Office pulls a magic wand out of its waistband.
The Suns have to avoid any more panic moves.
Last summer is last summer. Those panic moves are done. Childress for 5 years. Warrick for 3. Hedo for 4. But at least they've already rid themselves of the last one, and the first two add up to less money (10 million) than the Pistons are currently paying undersized SG Ben Gordon, not to mention the 8 mill they're giving undersized, follically-challenged Charlie Villanueva. Detroit sunk 18 million a year for 5 years into those two, so it could be worse Suns fans.
Where the Pistons and Suns mirror each other is in the roster. Two inconsistent, aging stars around a bunch of role players.
But while the Pistons have already shot their free agency wad, the Suns' next best chance is still on the horizon.
And, in my opinion, they still have the star that stirs their drink in the meantime.