The trade deadline hasn’t passed in the NBA as I write this, so I don’t know for sure that Phoenix has stayed pat with what they have. I believe that they will, though, so I’ll assume that they did. Whether they do or not, they have played two of the most interesting results I have seen in a while since the all-star game. They’ve made it very clear that they are happy to see Terry Porter in the rear view mirror. In the first two games of the Alvin Gentry era they have averaged 141 points per game – 140 in the first game, and two better the second time. Those are their two highest totals of the season. Now, some of the credit for this sudden success has to due with the fact that both games were against the incredibly pitiful Clippers. That’s only part of the explanation, though – they averaged 107.5 points per game in the first two against the Lakers’ runt sibling.
The interest comes from more than just the score, too. The first game was played without Jason Richardson, their third leading scorer, because he was suspended for driving like a lunatic. That makes the 140 points particularly impressive. Beyond that, it was stunning how different the team looked in these games compared to the ones before the break. In a word, for the first time all year the team has looked like they are having fun. Considering they usually looked like they were under Mike D’Antoni, this is a nice change.
This opens up a whole new set of questions for handicappers – how in the world do we deal with this team? Is this just temporary euphoria that will quickly fade, or is this new energy that will manifest itself in a bunch of wins down the stretch? Is the public going to treat this team reasonably, or are they going to jump all over them and destroy any value there might be? If all goes well, what does this do to the Western playoff picture? I don’t have a lot of answers. I want to be an optimist (I’m Canadian, so I have to be a Nash fan), but at best my optimism is cautious. It all seems a bit too good to be true to me.