With 8 games left in the season, it’ll probably take two or three losses in a row for Phoenix to be mathematically removed from contention, and yet this Friday 13th showdown on ESPN will be the true measure of the Suns. Win, and have a shot at playoff seeding, lose, and you’re done for.
The Houston Rockets played the Suns 3 times so far, winning the majority of the contests. However, they lost the last one in Phoenix. Unfortunately for the Suns however, since then Kyle Lowry has returned to the Rockets’ lineup, forming a formidable point guard backcourt with former Sun (yes, you’re allowed to cry now) Goran Dragic, who has been making a great case for most improved player with his great play in Lowry’s absence.
The Rockets are not the only team that is getting reinforcements for this one, however, as Grant Hill is set to return to the Suns lineup, coming off the bench. While you may argue that his defensive abilities should warrant a start, Shannon Brown has been rolling of late, and Hill is still recovering (like it or not) from the surgery he had on his knees. Add to that the fact that the bench needs a player who can create off the dribble for others, and that Hill can still close or come in for either Dudley or Brown if needed, and this move is quite clearly a good one. It also may allow Gentry to play Marcin Gortat with the bench unit more effectively, since Hill is the Suns’ second best pick and roll player, by far.
The key for the Suns, will remain the same as t: Close out on jump shooters, don’t get rattled, don’t let Chandler Parsons destroy you, and rebound the ball. A duo of rebounders like Sam Dalembert and Marcus Camby won’t go away easily, and Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez absolutely have to box them out.
Steve Nash’s number is 13, today is Friday the 13th, Marcin Gortat’s number in Orlando was 13. There might be some luck in it after all. And oh boy, do the Suns need all of it.