Let's get one thing straight, the Phoenix Suns - they are #Winning!
Despite a good, bad, and ugly loss all wrapped in Tuesday's game against the vengeful Boston Celtics, the Phoenix Suns are in Milwaukee to play the Bucks riding a well timed surge. The Suns are 4-1 (.800) since the All-Star break, 11-4 (.733) in their last 15 games, they have won 5 of their last 6 road games, and they have won 7 of their last 10 games against teams with winning records.
Tuesday's loss in Boston was 'good' because of what the bench accomplished for the 2nd time in two games. They carried the team when the starters were playing horribly and are really starting to develop a unique identity much like our bench squad of last year did after the All-Star break. Aaron Brooks dropped a team high 17 and added 7 assists while Jared Dudley dropped 15 and was everywhere, Marcin Gortat had 13 and 13 for yet another double-double and the bench championed an 18-0 run that forced the Boston starters back into the game...But the 'bad' part was that the same 18-0 run was nullified by a deficit that started at 11 points after the first quarter - jumped to 20 at the half - and peaked at 29 at one point in the 3rd. It was too little too late. The 'ugly' came in the form of the Boston players on the floor and the Boston head coach in the post game interviews. It was Kevin Garnett openly jawing at Alvin Gentry and the Suns bench in the final seconds of the game (and receiving a technical foul for it), it was Paul Pierce blatantly mocking Channing Frye after a fast break dunk (and receiving a technical foul for it), and it was Rajon Rondo disrespectfully shooting a 3-point shot with a 10-point lead as time was expiring (and getting fouled hard by Jared Dudley for it).
Did we really expect a win? If you were slightly delusional like me and sort of did expect a win... you need to sober up like I have. How did I sober up you ask? I closed my eyes and made is so with the power of my mind.
But maybe I still am under the influence, because after the game I saw something akin to a fire burning in an ice-cavern, a light shinning from a veil of darkness, a lamb laying with a lion - it was this positive Tweet from our own Scott Howard.
I basked for a moment in the glory of such a positive take-away considering the source - and then I realized I am on a drug. It's called Eutychus. It's not available, because if you try it once, you will die and your children will weep over your exploded body. Too much? Jump it then fools and lets talk about the Bucks.
Channing Frye - Jon Brockman
*I'm assuming VC will start - though he did look as though he might have suffered a stroke and/or a stage-mach-5 concussion after colliding with Channing Frye on Tuesday and receiving a 'mouth laceration'... so we'll see.
Key Bucks Subs: Earl Barron (Yes - that Earl Barron), Corey Maggette, Earl Boykins, Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas-Roberts
|Luc Mbah a Moute||57||24.9||2.1||4.5||46.7||0.0||0.1||0.0||1.5||2.1||69.7||2.2||3.2||5.3||0.8||1.0||0.8||0.3||2.4||5.7|
Milwaukee Injuries: Andrew Bogut (Left intercostal muscle strain), Drew Gooden (Left foot plantar fasciitis), Ersan Illyasova (Concussion), Michael Redd (Left ACL/MCL), Luc Mbah a Moute (Flu-like symptoms - day 2 day).
Suns Injuries: Vince Carter? Channing Frye?
Actually - team physician's assistant (not really) Grant Hill tweeted last night an encouraging status report on Channing Frye and his recovery from the collision with Carter,
Attached was this photo -
Needless to say... I think he'll be fine.
This awesome painting of Brandon Jennings was created by dpwatson aka wattdogg10 - one of our very own staff writers who is an amazing artist and accomplishes his works of art because he has tigers blood and Adonis DNA. Check out his portfolio and his other masterpieces at his website here.
When it comes to his play - Brandon Jennings is picking up steam after suffering a broken foot that set him back for a large chunk of the season so far. But now he is healthy - but the typical problem of young players he suffers from is consistency and execution down the stretch in games. Over the Bucks last 5 games - Jennings has played well against other sub-par teams, posting a 27 point, 7 assist, 3 steal game against the Timberwolves and a 21-4-2 game against the Pistons. But in games against tougher competition - Jennings is struggling significantly, he made only 2 of 6 and had 3 turnovers against Chicago and went a paltry 1-11 from the field with 4 personal fouls in 27 minutes against the Nuggets.
Steve Nash and the Suns should easily be able to contain Jennings for the second time this season - he went 2 for 10 for 6 points in their first meeting.
The scouting report from my armchair here is simple for this game. This is one of those should be #winning games. We know that earlier this year these games were still very scary - and even on this road-trip our wins against the Nets and the Pacers were too close for comfort... but here's the deal - Andrew Bogut is out, again.
Last time we saw the Bucks - they looked absolutely horrendous offensively (shooting only 31.1%) and we out-rebounded them like a gazillion to none (more like 54-39). We must win the rebounding battle and execute on offense.
I won't say it's absolutely necessary for tonight's game... but our starting unit REALLY needs to start pulling things together again. For 2 games in a row they have looked drained, tired, and just flat-out bad offensively.
The Bucks are short-handed and struggling - we on the other hand are healthy and rolling. Especially our bench.
Is it premature to say that the bench is back? That it has developed it's own identity and poses just as much of threat as our starting unit? If you look at our bench production since the All-Star break I can say that with confidence.
Already on the season our bench was producing good numbers... but since the break? WOW.
Before the break the bench's scoring average = 39.2
After the break? 53.8 ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Not at all.
That's all folks - let's get this win and enjoy a capstone game in OKC before our boys come back to the desert. We've got to finish up this already successful road-trip strong with a couple of wins.
|@ Milwaukee||Fri 03/04||6:30 PM MST|
|@ Oklahoma City||Sun 03/06||5:00 PM MST|
|Houston||Tue 03/08||7:00 PM MST|
|Denver||Thu 03/10||8:30 PM MST|
|Orlando||Sun 03/13||1:30 PM MDT|
|@ Boston||Wed 03/02||L 103 - 115|
|@ New Jersey||Mon 02/28||W 104 - 103|
|@ Indiana||Sun 02/27||W 110 - 108|
|@ Toronto||Fri 02/25||W 110 - 92|
|Atlanta||Wed 02/23||W 105 - 97|
31 - 28
I love Grant Hill, you love Grant Hill. But how much should we REALLY love Grant Hill?
Several times over the previous few months, posters here on Bright Side have suggested that Hill belongs in the Suns Ring of Honor. Regardless of how BAMFy the veteran medical miracle is - I just don't see it.
The Suns Ring of Honor currently consists of 9 players, a long-time athletic trainer, a head coach, and the man who has served nearly every role with the organization sans donning a pair of short shorts, Jerry Colangelo.
Perhaps it's my constant need and desire to analyze Suns franchise history but if you look at Hill's credentials he just doesn't stack up. Obviously you can't compare Hill to Joe Proski's athletic training, Cotton Fitzsimmons' coaching, or Colangelo but put him against the 9 players and it just doesn't pass the smell test.
Admission into the Suns Ring of Honor should be and is based on the accomplishment of the player while in Phoenix. Thus, Shaquille O'Neal is one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history but nobody is going to express shock when he's unable to wriggle his way into the Ring of Honor.
To give you the appropriate background, here are the current 9 and their accomplishments when they played for the Suns:
Charles Barkley, F (1992-1996)
Look at that list and then look back at Grant Hill.
You could add that Hill is a good defender who takes the other team's best player in nearly every game the Suns play but you're not taking it a whole lot further than the list above. You can't wish Suns accomplishments onto his resume - no matter how badly you might want to.
I understand that the story on Hill isn't entirely written yet - but it's close. He could theoretically lead the Suns on a miracle run to the championship this season where he's a Top 3 player on the squad and averaging his Suns high in points - but he probably won't. If we're lucky we'll get a couple more solid offensive seasons out of him combined with his flexible and unique defensive abilities - and that just won't be enough to get him enshrined.
Ask yourself this, does Hill really stack up against the current crop of Ring of Honor members?
5 of the 9 guys played 8 or more seasons with the team and 4 of those 5 made a minimum of 3 All-Star appearances in a Phoenix uniform. The 5th was Alvan Adams and he was the longest tenured Sun at 13 seasons. Even the most wild of dreamers can't imagine Hill plays another 4 seasons with the Suns so he's not going to bust into that club and strong odds are he'll never make an All-Star team as a Sun.
Then there are the 4 guys who played 6 seasons or less in Phoenix. What have we got there - an NBA MVP, a host of All-NBA selections (of all three classes), guys who were either the best player or best scorer on NBA title contenders, and the first superstar the franchise ever knew.
You can try and form an argument for why Grant Hill's tenure is similar to Charles Barkley, Connie Hawkins, Tom Chambers, or Paul Westphal but be advised that I'll probably laugh you out of the room. Then once you're out of the room I'll probably chase you down and laugh at you some more - just for my own petty amusement.
The Suns Ring of Honor is for the best of the best in franchise history - I've enjoyed Grant Hill's tenure in Phoenix as much as anyone but best of the best doesn't define him here unless you're talking about being a good guy. For my money there are only three guys deserving of induction into the Ring of Honor who aren't already there and the only reason is that they're still playing. Spoiler alert - Grant Hill doesn't compare to them either.
You might know the trio as the heart and soul of the Seven Seconds or Less era - Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion. I know you're not questioning Nash and Stoudemire's credentials and if you want to argue about Marion please google "Shawn Marion - basketball reference" real quick and get back to me.
Again, I love me some Grant Hill and think he has been a good player and a model citizen while a member of the Suns - he just doesn't deserve to be in the Suns Ring of Honor. There's no shame in that. Hill can have a job for life in the organization but something tells me he won't need it. If for some reason you do think Hill should be in the Ring of Honor, show me why - and make your argument make sense. The fact that he's a swell guy isn't enough - if it were Mark West would be enshrined.
Many sites have playoff predictors on them, and not one of those sites currently picks the Phoenix Suns to make the playoffs this season. The Phoenix Suns currently sit in the 9th position in the West, only 2 games out of 6th place and 3.5 games out of 5th.
The problem, of course, is that there are 6 other teams besides the Suns with the same exact goal - to make the playoffs as a 5-8 seed - and all of them are within 5.5 games of each other with 1/4 of the 82-game season still to play.
Can Phoenix move up? Absolutely. Only 2 of their direct competitors have fewer games to play against +.500 competition (13). And no team has more remaining games against losing teams (10) - games that SHOULD be won by playoff-caliber teams at this stage of the season.
The Suns' destiny is in their hands. They just need to grab it.
Hit the jump for a breakdown of each team's remaining schedule, from seeds 5-10 of the current playoff standings.
First, here is the Suns' remaining schedule. Scroll down for bullet-point analysis.
|Fri 04||@ Milwaukee||23||36|
|Sun 06||@ Oklahoma City||37||22|
|Tue 08||vs Houston||31||32|
|Thu 10||vs Denver||36||26|
|Sun 13||vs Orlando||39||22|
|Mon 14||@ Houston||31||32|
|Wed 16||@ New Orleans||35||28|
|Fri 18||vs Golden State||27||33|
|Sun 20||@ LA Clippers||22||40|
|Tue 22||@ LA Lakers||43||19|
|Wed 23||vs Toronto||17||44|
|Fri 25||vs New Orleans||35||28|
|Sun 27||vs Dallas||44||16|
|Tue 29||@ Sacramento||15||44|
|Wed 30||vs Oklahoma City||37||22|
|Fri 01||vs LA Clippers||22||40|
|Sun 03||@ San Antonio||50||11|
|Tue 05||@ Chicago||41||18|
|Wed 06||@ Minnesota||15||47|
|Fri 08||@ New Orleans||35||28|
|Sun 10||@ Dallas||44||16|
|Mon 11||vs Minnesota||15||47|
|Wed 13||vs San Antonio||50||11|
Phoenix Suns remaining schedule, by the bullets