Just five days ago, the Phoenix Suns seemed a lock for the playoffs. Three tough losses later, the Suns have to win to even stay in playoff position.
What a difference a few days makes. After two solid months of remaining in playoff position in the West, the Phoenix Suns only needed a week to put all that work on rocky ground.
The Western Conference is a juggernaut with the ninth seed (Memphis Grizzlies) being a full 8 games over .500 and surging. The teams ahead of the Suns are a consistent 10+ games over .500 and surging as well.
The Phoenix Suns were playing well too, capped by a .600 record at 33-21 record after a pasting of the hated San Antonio Spurs at home last Friday (was it only last Friday this happened? It seems so long ago.), the next six of seven at home, and the impending return of Dragic's back court mate Eric Bledsoe for the playoff push.
The good times continued into the waning minutes of Sunday night's game against Houston, but then the wheels came off. The Suns lost at 11-point fourth quarter lead to Houston, then an 8-point fourth quarter lead to Minnesota, then got pasted by Utah. The last two losses were punctuated (a painful puncture) by Goran Dragic's twisted ankle that might linger into the upcoming games.
Now, with the Pelicans coming into town, the Suns need to win to keep hold of their 8th spot in the playoff chase.
The NOPs were supposed to be this year's Suns. After two post-Paul years of losing/tanking to high lotto picks, including budding superstar Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans spent money this summer to reach the playoffs and reap their just rewards for such self-imposed hardships.
First, they traded two #1 picks for a young All-Star point guard. Good in theory, for sure. Jrue Holiday is a quality young player, though maybe overpaid at $10+ per year. But then they swapped their incumbent PG for combo guard/small forward Tyreke Evans. Adding those guys to max-paid combo guard Eric Gordon proved to be a bad mix.
But all might have worked out for the Pellies if they'd gotten their front court right. Unfortunately, Ryan Anderson (their version of Channing Frye) got hurt and ruined the tenuous mix. Then Holiday got hurt. Then backup center Jason Smith.
To top all that off, the Pellies managed to horrify most of the kids with a new mascot that had to be replaced midseason with a softer version.
Later, an even scarier thing happened. What are they thinking in New Orleans?!?
Now the NOPs are fading back to their same position as a year ago, and may quickly decide it's better to be bad. Their top pick in the best draft in a decade is only protected to #5 and the Pellies are currently in the 8th lotto spot. But with their third best player lately being Brian Roberts, they may hit that fifth lotto spot after all.
Unfortunately, the Pellies have not been able to find that winning formula, with or without their health. They struggled to reach .500 when healthy, and now are careening with 5 straight losses and 7 losses in their last 8 games.
Ah, the Suns. I already went into a lot up above, so now let's go into the Bright Side:
The big key to the game is getting Goran Dragic on the floor effectively. If Dragic can be effective, the Suns should be able to take this win easily. The Pelicans are floundering.
Statistically, there are a few important keys:
There's all kinds of ways this game could go wrong.
Eric Gordon could decide that he wants to show the Suns what they almost had (which would have to be better than 15.8 points, 3.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds version in NOP land).
Tyreke Evans could suddenly decide he's the ROY version of Reke.
Anthony Davis could go for 30/15 and carry the team to a win.
But most likely, as long as Goran Dragic plays, the Suns will be able to pull this game out. The Suns beat the Pelicans both prior times this season, in November. Once in Phoenix, and once in New Orleans (when Bledsoe carried the Suns to a win with Dragic out).
The National Basketball Association has announced it's "Noches éne-bé-a" program for the 2014 season and "Los Suns" look to feature prominently. For the 8th year, the NBA celebrates its fans of Latin American and Hispanic heritage with 6 distinctive in-game NBA jerseys.
The National Basketball Association has announced it's "Noches éne-bé-a" program for the 2014 season and "Los Suns" look to feature prominently. For the 8th year, the NBA celebrates its fans of Latin American and Hispanic heritage with 6 distinctive in-game NBA jerseys. Additionally, for the first time ALL 30 NBA teams will wear specially designed Noches éne-bé-a shooting shirts from adidas, the league's official on-court apparel provider, during the first two weeks of March.
The Phoenix Suns will wear their "Los Suns" jerseys in 1 nationally-televised game and two locally broadcast games. Remember when the Suns barely had 1 nationally televised game at the start of the season? Nosotros hemos venido a long way, baby! (Don't hate on my conjugation, please). Phoenix will wear the jersey in the following games:
Thursday, March 6 - @ Oklahoma City Thunder on FSAZ
Monday, March 10 - @ Los Angeles Clippers on NBA TV
Wednesday, March 19 - vs. Orlando Magic on FSAZ
The Latin nights jerseys are one of my favorite NBA alternates for all the teams that participate. I'm a bit baffled by the choice to have the Suns sport the "Los" designation at an away game in Oklahoma City instead of another home game, but I suppose all 12 Spanish speakers in the state of Oklahoma need some amor también.
According to the league, Hispanic fans comprise 18% of the NBA's total fanbase. In addition to the special unis, los partidos de Noches ené-bé-a will feature special telecasts and in-arena festivities. If you'd like to see what the NBA looks like in Spanish, check out their official Spanish language website, enebea.com.
Los Bright Siders, let's have some fun with this. Got any good Spanish language nicknames we could implement during Latin Nights? I already nabbed "El dragón" for Goran Dragi? in the caption above, but how about "Hombre de Demolición" for P.J. Tucker or "Cirulea Gigante" (Giant Plum) for Miles Plumlee? Someone's got to be able to do better than that, verdad? Show your stuff in the comments!
Let's just have a little fun on a Thursday between games to distract us from the recent losing and injuries and general blah feeling among Suns fans this week.
Jimmer Fredette was highly coveted by many Suns fans when he was entering the NBA in the 20111 Draft. He ended up going to Sacramento (after some interesting trades) and now will be bought out by the Kings and become a restricted free agent looking for a home.
Needless to say, his pro career has not gone nearly as well as his time at BYU. It's not hard to consider the 10th-overall pick in his draft class a bust.
BUT, just for sake of argument, what if he was stymied playing for a dysfunctional Kings team? What if he came to Phoenix and like Gerald Green before him (and Channing Frye) (and P.J. Tucker) he rose from the ashes to fulfill his potential?
It could happen.
Look, the Suns have plenty of backcourt players already. Dragic isn't supposed to be out long and according to Coach Jeff (via Paul Coro) should be ready for Friday's game. Eric Bledsoe is getting closer and closer and the Suns already signed Barbosa for the rest of the season and most of us want to see more Archie Goodwin and not less.
But let me just throw this out there: Jimmer is shooting 49% from three this season and scoring 18 points per 36 minutes. His PER is a respectable 16.5.
It's not farfetched to think that he can contribute in the right situation and Phoenix has been the right situation for a lot of other guys. So...maybe?
Vote below. Comments encouraged as well.
And for the record: I'm voting, "no" because I want more Archie. ALL THE ARCHIE.