Sun Setting on Phoenix

Mike OwensCorrespondent IApril 24, 2008

While being down 0-2 certainly isn’t insurmountable, it sure is tough.

Especially when the team you’re down 0-2 is the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

But this is exactly what the Phoenix Suns face. A 0-2 deficit to a team that not only won the NBA title last season, but took the Suns out along the way.

And with vengeance on their mind, the Suns have not been able to do much except squander leads and fall apart down the stretch.  And they’re doing this despite the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal, who was supposedly coming to help out on the defensive end, the side of the court they continue to struggle on despite this.

And with all this happening, you have to wonder if the Suns have it in them to come back.  And if they don’t, then what?  The Suns are not getting any younger.  They have four starters on the wrong side of 30 and a team built to win now, not in two or three years.

Unfortunately for the Suns though, they haven’t looked good enough to win now, not yet at least.  In fact, they look like a team that’s well on their way to a first round exit instead of a trip to the Finals, something that wasn’t supposed to happen this year.

In fact, when they acquired O’Neal, they thought they finally had their missing link.  They thought they had found their player that could lead them to the promised land of the NBA.  He was going to come in and give them defense, something they sorely needed, as well as a player to defend the Western Conference big men, something Amare Stoudemire has not been able to do while playing out of position as the center. 

Unfortunately for the Suns, neither of these things has happened.  Tim Duncan, the main assignment of Shaquille O’Neal, is averaging 29 points and 16 rebounds while the Spurs as a team is averaging over 109 points per game on over 49% shooting, while doing most of their damage in the post.  . 

If this is the Suns version of defense, they need to a stern talking to about what defense is, because they’re not playing it.  And if they want to get back in this series, they need to start playing better team defense.

The fact of that matter is that the time is now for the Suns.  They have to find a way to win this series against the defending champs. 

They have to find a way to do something that has haunted them all year though, and that’s playing defense.  If they don’t step it up on that end of the court, they won’t be playing deep in to June, something in which they’ve grown accustomed. 

And while the Suns continue try to find a way to salvage this series and save their postseason lives, one must wonder: What happens if they don’t win this year? 

As mentioned earlier, the Suns are not getting any younger, which gives them a smaller window to win than a lot of teams in the NBA.  If they don’t win now, you have to wonder if they ever will.