Recapping the Western Conference action in the Suns chase for the playoffs
Is anyone else just kind of happy the Suns have a couple days off here? I know a lot of times after a bad loss you want to immediately watch your team play again to serve as a palate cleanser of sorts but for me there are some times when I find a loss so disappointing that I need to take a few plays off. It allows me to put things in perspective and consider such questions as "Are we really supposed to believe Ted didn't pine for Robin over the entire course of his 10 year relationship with the Mother?", "How many actors from The Wire are going to die on The Blacklist this season?", and "Is it possible to rip open another man's throat with your teeth?"
You know - the important stuff.
Monday March 31st Key Western Conference Results:
Memphis Grizzlies 94 Denver Nuggets 92 (Recap) - Did you know before last night the Grizzlies had lost 28 of their last 30 games in Denver? Well they definitely had. Unfortunately that streak of bad luck did not continue last night. Coming into the altitude of Denver, on the 2nd end of a back to back, the Grizz took care of business last night. Every time I checked in with the score last night Denver was hanging relatively tough with Memphis and even had a chance to tie the game, down 3, with 7 seconds remaining. For reasons I don't really even want to know Denver decided the best course of action was to run a play for 7 foot 1 Timofey Mozgov to shoot a three pointer. Mr. Mozgov was up until that point shooting 1/12 from long distance on the season - a percentage that makes him a more dangerous long distance threat than Ish Smith (seriously) but still not anyone you'd want trying to tie the game. I wasn't watching the game so my assumption was that the Mozgov attempt was the result of a broken play - I was not correct. I'll let the man himself take it home:
"We know that I can make 3s," Mozgov said. "We tried. I just missed it. It wasn't good."
What? Other stuff happened but when Timofey Mozgov is attempting game-tying threes on plays that were actually drawn up for him all that other stuff is irrelevant.
Current Western Conference Standings:
|2. Oklahoma City
|3. LA Clippers
|4. Houston||49||23||.681||8||6-4||LOST 1|
|6. Golden State
Tuesday April 1st Western Conference Games of Significance:
Trail Blazers @ Lakers - I bet the Blazers won't get blown out by the Lakers tonight because I mean who would do that, right?
Warriors @ Mavericks - The Warriors Bogut/Lee front court is unlikely to play in this one which makes it quite a bit less likely that they'll win the game. If Dallas loses tonight they'll go from 7th in the West to 9th in the West. Get used to this kind of thing folks.
Recapping the week that was, reviewing the news & notes, taking a look at Suns history, updating the 2014 NBA Draft Watch, and previewing the week ahead... Welcome to the Center of the Sun.
This week the Phoenix Suns said "Hello" to three exes in Marcin Gortat, Amare Stoudemire, and Mike D'Antoni. In two out of those three encounters they came out on top, looking better over time ellapsed since they were together. Then there was round three, and, well the Suns were a hot mess around their flamboyant thin mustached ex that was a catalyst in making them who they were...
It is easy to look back at last week as being a bit of a letdown after that clunker of a loss to the Lakers who are in the midst of one of their worst seasons every, but it was another winning week.
Don't forget that.
The Suns continued their winning streak taking it to six games and like everything else it came to an end. They beat the Knicks about as badly as one could beat another while handling the playoff bound Wizards as well. Eric Bledsoe is back and playing well. The defense is improving and when things were bleak the team rallied to turn things around. One loss, no matter how apathetic and brutal it was, does not define the week. Focus on the positives.
At this point the Suns in a three-way tie for the seventh seed in the Western Conference and are on the cusp of winning 20 more games this year than last year. Focus on the positives. The team has a rough road ahead, but they are on the road this year driving with the best teams in the NBA.
The loss to the Lakers was just a pit stop after a flat tire with eight more laps to go. It is time to... Look on the Bright Side.
Bright Side, are you as sick of Chris Kaman's mug on the homepage as I am? I figured...
That is the winning percentage (and overall record) for the final opponents on the Suns schedule. Not a walk down the Red Carpet. It does not help that three out of the next four opponents are also the best three teams in the NBA today record wise and the fourth is the fifth team in the Western Conference. The Suns did what they were supposed to going 6-1 in a stretch of winnable games against bad teams and now they have to go out there and win games.
As they say, anything worth having is worth fighting for. A playoff spot is worth fighting for.
Quote of the Week
"We didn't know how to stop them. Our intensity was really bad. I don't know why but it's like nobody wants to play playoffs. It seems like that."
"Our schedule gets a lot harder after this. Play all the top teams now in the next six or seven games, so that's why this game was so important. I mean, if this happens against Oklahoma City or the Clippers, then fine. But this team is not a playoff team, so that's why it's disappointing."
Goran Dragic after the loss to the Lakers
2014 NBA Draft Update
Surrogate Watch continues and the Suns have three first round picks with the current projections, with their own pick landing in the lottery. Sort of what most thought in the pre-season, but not quite the pace from those projections. Here is the update on how the three picks look right now:
Minnesota Timberwolves (36-37) -- No. 13 Overall (Pick stays in Minnesota based on Protections) - Rondae Hollis Jefferson, Freshman Wing Arizona
Phoenix Suns (44-30) -- No. 14 Overall (Pick stays in Phoenix based on Protections) - Jerami Grant, Sophomore Forward Syracuse
Washington Wizards (38-36) -- No. 17 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) - Clint Capela, Swiss Forward
Indiana Pacers (52-23) -- No. 26 Overall (Pick goes to Phoenix based on Protections) - Jabari Bird, Freshman Wing California
Keep following along here to get updates and information on the 2014 NBA Draft Class and more.
News & Notes
Suns History Lesson
This Week in Suns History: April 6th, 1995 -- Once upon a time there were only three players in NBA History to have made 1,000 three-point field goals. Dale Ellis, Reggie Miller, and... The Suns Danny Ainge. Since then 70 more players reached that mark, all surpassing Ainge (1,002, 73rd All-Time). Mike Dunleavy, Ron Artest, and Mo Petterson all have more threes than Ainge for their career. Yup.
Previewing the Week Ahead:
Wednesday, April 2nd vs. Los Angeles Clippers (53-22)
Friday, April 4th @ Portland Trail Blazers (48-27)
Sunday, April 6th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (54-19)
Deep breath........ Now exhale.
This is going to be a tough week where winning games equals earning them. The Spurs have won a franchise best 18 games in a row. The Thunder are right on their heels with the MVP Front Runner, Kevin Durant. The Blazers are getting back on track after a tough stretch where they really struggled.
Silver Lining? The Suns have beaten all three of them this season.
So far they are 2-1 against Portland, 1-1 against Oklahoma City, and 1-2 against San Antonio giving, at the very least, hope that they can go out there and earn wins. Because they have done it before.
This week I am going with a 2-1 week for the Suns. Not necessarily because I think it will happen, but because it needs to happen. Good Luck.
When you make the playoffs, you don't get the high draft picks. Instead, you have to find your future stars in places that no one else is looking. The Phoenix Suns appear to be doing just that.
The Phoenix Suns may be close to the playoffs, but they are also getting closer to finding gems in the next draft despite no projected 2014 pick being higher than 17, depending on how Washington finishes the season.
General Manager Ryan McDonough, Assistant GM Pat Connelly, super scout Ronnie Lester and draft guru John Treloar have traveled all over the world in the past year, watching players in gyms as hot as Phoenix in the summer to as cold as Siberia at any time of year.
McDonough first saw Suns rookie Alex Len as a 16 year old playing in a stifling hot gym. He watches every player live, and stores video and notes of every one of them.
Greek rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo burst onto the NBA draftosphere last spring. He was ultimately taken at #17 overall, but has clearly shown the talent to have gone in the top 5 if the scouts would have just had more time to evaluate him.
Will 2014 have a similar player skyrocket onto the stage? And if so, which GM will snap him up?
According to sources, one such player being targeted by the Phoenix Suns is Boromir Barac of Bosnia, a cousin of Boris Barac who is considering making himself available for this year's draft.
"The kid is huge," an scout told me in confidence, of Boromir. "But he's just so smooth, athletic and naturally talented at the same time."
Very few NBA scouts have hit on this young man because until two weeks ago he was completely "off the grid", having not played organized basketball until he joined a local team last month and word spread like wildfire.
Former Suns center Marcin Gortat did not play basketball until he was 17, and was barely drafted by the NBA before being stashed overseas for a couple years and then joining Orlando. He was a steal.
Gregg Popovich reportedly thought Tony Parker, a little-known Frenchman, would never hold up in the NBA after watching him work out before the 2003 draft. Eventually, the Spurs took Parker at #28 overall. That was a steal.
And we all know the story of the Phoenix Suns spiriting little-known Goran Dragic to Phoenix before the draft, and ultimately being able to draft him at #45 overall. That was a steal.
Now, this super-strong, fleet-footed behemoth from Bosnia might be a guy who rises to the second half of the first round this June as scouts flock to Bosnia to watch him play. Reportedly, the kid is 7'0" tall, weighs 270 pounds, but is able to run like a deer while splitting logs with a mere hatchet.
He is head and shoulders above his current competition, which consists of ragtag players who were given permission from their parents to keep coming back despite getting bumps and bruises every time they play.
Boromir Baric, 18, always eschewed basketball for a promising Olympic-level career in pairs figure skating and ice dancing. Alas, Boromir kept unintentionally injuring his partners just before big competitions and, most recently, was disqualified from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi due to a mysterious head injury to his partner as they practiced the Iron Cross before traveling to Sochi.
Baric retired from international figure skating soon after, turning instead to a soft round leather ball in place of his razor-sharp blades.
Baric is fluent in six languages and is apparently a major Phoenix Suns fan. When an independent scout saw Baric last week, he was wearing an orange suit and had painted his skin to match. And that was just to run down the street to get milk for his mother.
Another scout reported seeing Baric in deep purple, covered head to toe in purple sweat bands.
Asked if he was sending a message, Baric said, "I like the heat. After years of figure skating and ice dancing, wearing gloves and hats and tight body suits, I really want to live the hot desert and wear cargo shorts for a change of pace."
Welcome to the Madhouse! Bright Side of the Sun is an amazing and diverse community and it deserves a place where the tyranny of topicality does not rule. And that's what The Madhouse is. It's Bright Side of the Sun's place to talk about whatever you want, whenever you want: favorite TV shows, news from around the league or how you're now building your own personal ark after going to the movies this weekend. It's all fair game here. Get crazy, y'all.