There’s no question that this NBA season has come with a great many surprises–some of them pleasant, while others not so much. On one side you have the Golden State Warriors; a team currently on a fifteen game winning streak (as of Saturday night) that stands alone as the top dog in the top conference.
Nobody saw that coming with rookie head coach Steve Kerr.
On the other hand, you have the Philadelphia 76ers who, for lack of a better word, suck. Nearly starting the season in record worst fashion, Philly avoided absolute disaster though, winning its first game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road in game number 18 on the year–nearly a quarter way through the regular season.
But let’s focus on a team in the Western Conference that hasn’t been outstanding but has by no means been awful. Standing in the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, the Phoenix Suns are going to be the one team no one–particularly the Warriors–will be wanting to play come post-season.
And I mean nobody.
Here are three reasons for which I make that case:
1. THEY’RE THE WARRIORS’ ACHILLES’ HEEL
Sure, I get it, a .500 team (12-12 record) in the Western Conference seems pretty weak. When considering that seeds 1-7 have eight or less losses, the case is strong for wondering why the Suns are even in the playoff picture. In the Eastern Conference, ending the season at .500 could probably get you a spot anywhere from a 6-8 seeding–maybe even higher–but in the West, things are different.
And they could become extremely scary if Phoenix makes it.
The Warriors are the hottest team in the league at the moment, winning fifteen consecutive games (and counting), but if the season ended today they would have to go up against the only team that’s had any major success against them this season. Guess who? The Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix not only the first team to knock off the Warriors from their perch this season, but they are the only team in the entire league that’s been able to do it other than the reigning NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs.
Not to mention that Phoenix’s win wasn’t even close–a 107-95 final.
Can you smell the upset yet?
2. AN OFFENSIVE SHOOTOUT HELPS, BUT ALSO HURTS GOLDEN STATE
Phoenix currently has the fifth-best overall offense in the NBA with the Warriors not too far ahead holding the number three spot. If the playoff match ups do end up staying true by the time the season comes to a close, NBA fans from all over will be in a for a treat in the Suns-Warriors first round clash.
And I mean a real treat, not some sort of fool’s gold.
The Splash Bros. have been doing all they can to keep the hopes of a championship golden for a city with high expectations, a new coach, and a terrifying crowd. Much like the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL and their “12th Man” advantage that refers to the fans and how noise from the crowd drastically alters their opponents’ abilities, the Warriors have much to boast about from home.
Not only is it one of the hardest places to play, but it’s quite the bright arena. If you forgot what the Sun looks like by some miraculous accident, the bright yellow court, seats, and banners will direct you back to your senses. If the dream of bringing an NBA title to the Bay Area is still legitimate, the Warriors are going to have to do one of two things–(A) hope and pray that the Splash Bros. strategy doesn’t come back to haunt them or (B) get some production from other key players before heavily depending on Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson becomes a bad habit.
We all know what happens when greatness gets to your head…nothing good.
All it takes in the playoffs is a couple bad nights, at home or on the road, at just like that your team is done. Winning can only happen one game at a time, and that is something that the Suns are very much aware of.
3. HISTORY TENDS TO REPEAT ITSELF
Remember last season when the Dallas Mavericks squeaked into the Western Conference playoffs and got stuck playing the top team that is the San Antonio Spurs? Remember how all the “experts” said that the Mavs didn’t stand a chance against the “Big 3” of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan? Dallas had no interest in their words of wisdom, why? They left it all out on the court.
Teams with nothing to lose pose the biggest threat to successful and truly talented squads that are trying to make a name for themselves. If what the Dallas Mavericks were able to achieve against the Spurs in their prime, and no other opponent played as well as the Mavs did against San Antonio in Round 1, expect a lot of noise, hype, and hustle to come out of Phoenix if the standings permit the Suns-Warriors series to go down.
Trust me, the fun’s just getting started.