Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash, Losing Streaks, and Why the Lottery Seems Inevitable

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2011

The recent injury to Nash makes the Suns seem more old than experienced.
The recent injury to Nash makes the Suns seem more old than experienced.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns (33-32) are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and barely remain among the Western Conference's playoff contenders.

The same franchise that took the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers to six games in the Western Conference Finals last spring is just one game above .500 10 months later.

With only 17 games remaining before the playoff match ups are set, Phoenix finds itself sitting at 10th place in the Western Conference, two spots out of the postseason.

However the Suns current postseason outlook is hardly as serious as what is ailing the team's best player, Steve Nash.

Nash is suffering from a pelvic injury that has sidelined him for the past two games and has the Suns future looking bleak.

Though Phoenix is only six games back of No. 5 seeded-Denver, how far could a team which is carried by a 37-year-old 6'3" (at best) point guard really go?

The lone bright spot this season outside of Nash's superb play is that of Marcin Gortat.

Gortat has accumulated a plethora of double-doubles since coming to the desert from Orlando in a December trade.

Some of Gortat's best basketball has come during the Suns past 29 games. During that stretch Phoenix has won 18 and dropped 11, including three straight.

The excitement surrounding Phoenix's 18-8 mark dating back to January 12 (including a 4-2 road trip in late February and early March) has quickly faded to sorrow after the losses have piled up on the Suns.

The stretch of poor play is the result of two home blowout losses to playoff teams in Denver and Orlando, and a tough loss at Houston on Monday night.

Phoenix, once just a half game out of the west's No. 8 seed, now finds themselves falling farther behind the No. 8 seeded-Memphis Grizzlies.

The recent string of losses without Steve Nash in uniform brings back stomach-turning memories of 2008-2009, when the Suns won just 46 games and finished ninth in the west.

Who knows if these Suns will win even 40 games? Their schedule and overall play of late doesn't suggest they should.

The Suns are a losing team on the road, nearly a losing team overall, and have a losing attitude on the floor sometimes (lost to Denver and Orlando at home by a combined 42 points).

Even if Nash comes back healthy, Phoenix has the Lakers once, the Spurs twice, the Hornets three times, and nine more road games.

Rebuilding seems inevitable and so does the lottery.

Patrick Clarke is a Featured Columnist for the Phoenix Suns and a student at Towson University.