When I get to see a Suns game out here on the east coast, I get excited. When that game is shown on NBATV and is simulcast with the Phoenix broadcast crew including Eddie Johnson....I practically "pitch a tent".
So last nights game against the Pistons showed me something incredible about this team. That we actually have a complete team of players....not just a complete team of people. The distinction is that last year while we had a full roster, we honestly only played 7 maybe 8 players deep. Yes this formula worked in previous years for the Spurs but they played a slowed down, half court, defensively minded game as opposed to "7 seconds or less" offense with aging players.
When watching the Houston game a few nights earlier, I was still waiting for the defensively minded team that Terry Porter has been promising us. All I saw however was the same D'antoni type team that let the Rockets score at will, combined with a half-posturing at playing defense.
What I did like was Matt Barnes and his cheap shot. Yes....it was a cheap shot and I can't condone it as smart move, but pros get tired of having elbows and jabs thrown into their chest all game. The little things that you never see that takes place off-the-ball. If we really want to be respected as a defensive and physical team then I want to see anger and tenacity out of our better defenders like Barnes (we let our best defender by far go away in Marion and I haven't seen true tenacity from Raja in 2 years).
So with the victory over the Pistons, I finally saw a bench come in that for whatever reason, didn't give me the usual overwhelming anxiety of "ok, so how much will this lead shrink till Nash/Amare comes back in?" Grant Hill is showing flashes of old and reformed his game incredibly well after injury, Boris is still an enigma when given the ball but seems to be co-existing well with Shaq on the other side of the paint, Lopez filled in nicely when Shaq was ejected on a bullshit flagrant 2, even Singletary and Louis Amundson (long lost Hanson bassist?) played great hustle minutes.
What makes the win most impressive was that with Shaq out the Suns maintained a physical presence against one of the most imposing defensive teams and won by 18. All this without Leandro or Matt Barnes even in the lineup.
Now I say cautiously optimistic because I'm unsure if this team can maintain their physical play throughout the season against a ridiculously stacked Western Conference. My only hope is that Vitamin Water can keep the whole team looking sexy throughout the season.
Cause it seems to work nicely for Steve "Zoolander" Nash.......