I said yesterday that I feel the Suns need to win between 18 and 20 games in the second half to have a shot at the playoffs. So far, they’re 2-0 after the all-star break. The win against the Hawks at home was impressive, and even though I can’t exactly say the same for their win against the forgotten Raptors, it was still a road win. And road wins, regardless of the opponent, are not to be scoffed at in the NBA. Marcin Gortat, who has added some much-needed toughness to the Suns’ front line since coming over from Orlando, finished with 17 points on 7-9 shooting from the field. Vince Carter added 17 of his own. And it’s Carter that I want to talk about.
In his post-game quote, Grant Hill basically said that he could see a certain fire in Carter’s eye during pre-game warmups, when he was throwing down windmill dunks. Hill attributes this sudden energy boost to the fact that Carter was back in Toronto, where he spent the first part of his career. Okay, fine. It’s not that I don’t understand wanting to play good against your former team. It’s not that I don’t understand the juices flowing a bit more freely. But I’m wondering: Why is it that a guy making obscene amounts of millions can’t be pumped to play every night? Why does he have to be playing against his former team? Why is a guy’s energy level so markedly different from one night to the next that it is actually a noticeable thing to his teammates? Just wondering.
As for the way the Suns have come out of the gates, you can’t argue with the results. 2-0 after the break. On the right track. The thing that makes the Suns intriguing is that they really can score the ball. In a playoff series, they can at least make it exciting against pretty much anyone. They have plenty of firepower, as opposed to a team that just flat out lacks talent. So when we see them get on a nice run, we think to ourselves, “Maybe they’re getting hot. Maybe things are starting to click.” They always feel like they’re on the brink of something better. Again, so far so good. But like I said yesterday, I’m not jumping out of my seat.
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Written by Brad Botkin