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We have been seeing the slow demise of the Phoenix Suns for more than half a decade now. Ever since they could not get past the Spurs in '05, the Suns have slowly dismantled a once potential multiple title-winning team.
Call it bad luck, seeing as Joe Johnson returned late in the series against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals during that year, but for some reason the Suns did not see it necessary to keep a pivotal part to their success once Johnson became a free agent that offseason.
Money was definitely a huge factor, but seeing that the Suns were not shy about getting Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire all on one payroll, keeping Johnson should have become a no-brainer. Instead they agreed to a sign-and-deal trade with Atlanta, and since then the team has dealt or lost the rest of their once-phenomenal squad, with Steve Nash left seemingly helpless in the aftermath of an apocalyptic wasteland trying to survive with the scraps he has left.
The Suns are still a team that can get hot from outside (I vividly remember this last year when they swept San Antonio, and they simply could not miss a thing), but without Amar’e (who also gave the Spurs fits, especially during the playoffs), they pose literally no threat to the well-balanced Spurs team.
The Suns could very well knock Memphis out of the picture, mostly due to Nash’s ability to make those around him better, but if they run into Spurs this year, expect a reverse of what happened last year when these two battled one another.