For Game 2 the other night, I decided that for the first time since I’ve been writing for Sun-N-Gun, I was going to watch a game without a computer in front of me. I went to Rock Bottom and enjoyed their American Craft Beer Week specials and some pizza. It was delicious. But that’s neither here nor there.
As the game was winding down, I decided it was time to leave. The T was very surprised, as there were still 3 minutes on the clock, and I never, ever leave a game early. When she asked me why I was leaving with time on the clock, I said, “If they don’t care, why in the hell should I?” And that’s the point, isn’t it? I mean, I certainly can’t claim to know what the Suns players feel like. But watching the game? It just feels like they don’t much care one way or another how these games end. There’s no urgency whatsoever.
I spent the last couple days reading everything I could find about the Suns and the Lakers. The vast majority of the opinions seem to read something like this:
Well, the Suns had a nice run, but this series just goes to prove everything we’ve known all along about (pick one or more of the following):
- The Suns’ terrible defense
- The Suns’ offensive system and how it will never succeed in the playoffs
- How overrated the Suns were the last few weeks
- How much better than everyone else the Lakers are
- How the Lakers “flipped the switch” and decided to play playoff basketball
- How Kobe is the greatest player ever even though the Lakers have only been great when they’ve had In-His-Prime Shaq or The Bird Gasol on the roster
and now, you might as well just bring on the Celtics.
I’m here to call bullshit. Here at Sun-N-Gun, we looked at the numbers before the series. And here’s the story: The Suns are good. The Lakers are good. But the story of this series, so far, is that the Lakers are playing like they’re a good team, the Suns are not. Why? I don’t know. I assume some of it has to do with getting Robin Lopez back into the mix; even though any percentage of Lopez is better than Jarron Collins, they look a little stilted and awkward with him in the game.
I also assume that coaching has something to do with it…and I don’t mean on the Lakers side. People seem to be falling all over themselves to slob all over Phil and claim that he’s the reason they’re playing well; that he’s got them in “playoff gear” or whatever. Um…no. But Alvin does seem to be struggling a bit, coaching-wise. Why? I don’t know. But my guess is that Alvin is trying to treat these games just like any other game. The box-score numbers bear this out…all of the Suns are playing the same minutes they played all season for the most part. The starters are getting the same rest. The Lakers, however, are giving big minutes to their starters (and their faux starter, Lamar Odom).
This means that the Suns’ bench is getting a lot of minutes against the Lakers starters. Now, I think we can all agree that the Suns bench is vastly superior to just about any bench in the league. But compared to the Lakers starters? Um, no.
So tonight…I think there is one key for the Suns: Turn it up several notches. This applies top to bottom. The players need to get it together and play like they mean it. Alvin needs to coach like it matters. The Suns are still a very good team…they just need to play like it. As Ric Bucher tweeted the other night:
The Lakers aren’t beating the Suns right now, the Suns are beating the Suns.