Phoenix Suns' Playoff Contention: Reality or Tease?

Mykael WrightContributor IMarch 5, 2011

Can Coach Alvin Gentry get his team to play consitent enough basketball to get into the playoffs?
Can Coach Alvin Gentry get his team to play consitent enough basketball to get into the playoffs?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After a 102-88 victory against the Bucks in Milwaukee Friday night, the Suns improved to 4-1 on their current road trip and 32-28 overall.

Combined with Memphis’s loss to the Hornets Friday, the Suns are just a half game back from the Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. 

Plus, they are just two games behind New Orleans, but Phoenix is actually tied with the sixth-place Hornets in the loss column.

The season winding down, with the playoff race so close, raises a pressing question for Suns fans:  Can the Suns make the playoffs, or is them being in contention just a tease?

Answer:  Yes, they are legitimate playoff contenders, but every time the Suns step onto the court, the fans should be prepared for a tease. 

Basketball is a game of peaks and valleys, but the Suns peaks are higher and valleys are lower within a single game than most teams’ highs and lows are throughout an entire season. 

The same Suns team that went on an 18-0 run against the Celtics Wednesday in defeat, went on a 19-0 run Friday against the Bucks in their victory.

Although it can be frustrating, the Suns style of play makes for exciting back and forth action.  Whether the Suns are up 20 or down 20, no lead for either team is safe in a Suns’ game. 

It’s great the Suns can go on those runs, but the Suns letting games get out of hand (or letting teams back into games) adds to their “tease factor.”

Unfortunately, inconsistency and up-and-down play have become large parts of this team’s identity.  Look no further than Channing Frye for proof.

After hitting back-to-back game winners against the Pacers and Nets and getting the Suns faithful in a frenzy, Channing Frye looked timid against the Celtics before leaving the game with an injury after colliding with Vince Carter. 

He played well again Friday night against Milwaukee, but he is going to have stop being a tease. 

He has to play well every night down the stretch for this team to make the playoffs because although Steve Nash is their most important player, Frye is their best player right now. 

If the Suns can keep their “tease factor” to a minimum and just play consistent ball for the final 22 regular-season games, don’t be surprised to find them in the playoffs. 

On the flip side, if they continue their teasing ways, don’t be surprised if they get an early start on their summer vacation.

With their 10-4 record since the beginning of February as proof of a turnaround from a rough start to the year, Suns fans probably are looking hoping for the former. 

It wouldn’t be a called teasing without hope, though, would it?