The return of the Suns: masterclass and victory against Trae

The Suns extend their great form before some Hawks that return to their old ways. The Suns haven't finished second in the West since 2007.


Looks like a flashback. We are talking, of course, about the Suns, who look to the future but, at the same time, have returned to the past. They weren't that high in the West since 2007, when they finished second with 61 wins. It was the last great year for Seven Seconds or Less, with Steve Nash as the leader, Mike D'Antoni as the coach and people like Amar'e Stoudemire on the track. Now, curiously, these three characters are together on the Nets bench looking for an eternally postponed and never achieved ring, the one that they had relatively close in a project that changed basketball but did not even end with the Finals. There was still an overtime in 2010, with 54 wins, third place in the West and a Conference finals that ended with a miraculous shot by Ron Artest in Game 5 and a display by Kobe Bryant (37 points) in Game 6. So far a project came, which at the end, orphaned a city that, in the 21st century, was never so close to the championship and that has to go back to 1993 to remember its last Finals, with Charles Barkley as leader, and the second of the franchise in its history: the others were in 1976.

The Suns are in Arizona, a very large desert but a very small market. The difficulty in attracting important free agents, who are always looking for the big markets (Los Angeles and New York, mainly), are resounding and very difficult to overcome. Nor has history been on their side when it comes to luck and missed opportunities: in 1976 they lost a mythical Finals against the Celtics with three overtimes in the fifth game, one of them forced by forward Gar Heard, but with defeat in the end. In 1993, with the best record in the NBA, they did not win a home game and faced the best Michael Jordan that has ever seen (something that is already saying), one who scored 31, 42, 44, 55, 41 and 33 points in the six games of the series. And as if that were not enough, we can go back to remember the last time they were second in the West, in 2006-07, and were beaten by the Spurs in the semi-finals of the West in a series to which they arrived better prepared than in the last two years. but in which they faced controversial decisions in the fourth game, with David Stern and the NBA in the spotlight and a defeat that, this time, they did not deserve.

It was the Suns' jinx years that, after an ignominious decade, see the light again. They do it with Devin Booker (21 points against the Hawks, leading scorer) and DeAndre Ayton (13 + 14), the two men of the future, but also with a Chris Paul who came to make the team an aspiring 35-year-old and is fulfilling with profit. All Star, 16 points and 8.5 assists on average (12 + 8 today) and an extraordinary maturity and veteran exercise. The Suns add, after beating Atlanta, three consecutive victories, six in the last seven games, 21 in the last 26 and, to go a little further, 24 in the last 30. They are the most regular team and fittest. the competition (ignoring the Nets, who are on their own), and against Atlanta they have had seven players over ten points, they have caught 49 rebounds (by 36 of their rivals), they have thrown over 50% in field goals and with 37.5% in triples. In other words, they have managed a game in which they have advanced clearly initially, they have controlled the pull of their rivals in the third period and they have resisted in the last, when a Danilo Gallinari basket at the start put the Hawks to only two points (89-87), and another of Clint Capela later managed to tie the duel (105-105) with three minutes to go.

That's where the Suns came, who never managed to get ahead. The draw was the maximum that Nate McMillan's team achieved (up to three times), a man who replaced a Lloyd Pierce who left the team for the player's empowerment (and for more) and who brought a new voice to the locker room . The change went well at the beginning, but it has been diluted in the last games in which Atlanta has returned to its old ways: they have had four defeats in the last five nights, some logical like tonight and others less, like the one suffered against the Kings. Trae Young scored just 19 points (little for him) on a poor shooting series (5 of 16), and he dished out 13 assists that were insufficient. Bogdanovic went to 22 + 4 + 6 + 4, Gallinari to 13, Kevin Huerter to 12 and Clint Capela, again the best of his team, added 16 points (with 8 of 12 in field goals) and 16 rebounds, insufficient for your team. The Hawks are now 23-23, along with 50%, and have the Celtics and Heat in the middle of the game and the Pacers not much further. They see the Bulls in the distance (tenths, they close the play-in but at 3.5 games) and very close to the Knicks, of which they are only half a game. Of course, they will have to regain feelings if they want to get anywhere in the playoffs. They have to row.

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