Can the Suns Keep It Up?
It's either a sad irony or a cruel coincidence that recently fired head coach Terry Porter was a member of that Blazers' team, but that it took new head man Alvin Gentry to get the Suns scoring like this. After three games against the league's bottom feeders and with a game against the Celtics looming on Sunday, the question is, can the Suns keep it up?
The team certainly seems to think so. If nothing else, they're sure going to try. During Gentry's pregame media session in his office on Friday, he sat at his desk fielding questions with his 2006-07 Suns' playbook right there for all to see.
If the last three games didn't tell you that the Suns are returning to their D'Antoni ways, that should all but confirm it.
Gentry talked about his team's incredible scoring output the last few games, and the fact that, with Amare Stoudemire out of the lineup, he might go even smaller to continue to push the tempo. His attitude about the notion that a small lineup might have some trouble defensively?
"They've got to guard us on the other end," Gentry said.
Coach Gentry also said that despite the loss of Stoudemire, he's not going to change what his team's trying to do, and that the results might not vary all that much.
"We're not going to change our style of play. It's like I said to somebody today, the end result might be that it's not a dunk at the end, but it might be a layup -- which still counts for two points. It might not be one of the Amare SportsCenter dunks, but if we can get it in the basket, then that's what we're going to try to do."
The problem, of course, is that it's unlikely that the Suns will continue to shoot the lights out, especially as they did against the Thunder. Phoenix hit 12 of their 22 three-point attempts, and over 58% of their field goals. Against stronger defensive teams -- like say, the Boston Celtics, who just happen to come in on Sunday -- numbers like that are highly unlikely.
One would think that, at some point, defensive stops would have to become part of the plan. But for better or worse, the Suns seem to know what they're built for, and that's scoring -- period. Besides, when your head coach is one of the few in the league that favors offense to defense, you can't expect it to become part of the team's culture.
"I'll say it like this, and Mike [D'Antoni] said it best: I've never seen a team win a game zero-zero, but you can win it 120-118, 130-129," Gentry said. "You're going to have to be able to score the basketball."
With the Suns averaging over 140 points per game since Gentry has taken over, it's hard to argue with the plan. And as Gentry has made crystal clear thus far, his team is not going to change what they do for anyone. That includes their next opponent, the defensive-minded Boston Celtics.
Boston is a team that (even without Kevin Garnett) is unlikely to give Phoenix so many open looks, and almost certainly won't allow them to get out in transition the way the Clippers and Thunder have done over the past three games.
Sunday's game will be the Suns' first true chance to find out if indeed the new (old) style is something that the team can rely on to take them into the post-season. Or, if their recent success (as surmised by some) may have simply been fool's gold against two of the worst teams in the league.