After such a long, mentally exhausting season, it becomes difficult to cope with the fact that your days may be numbered. For the Phoenix Suns, they’re staring down the barrel of elimination.
Had Markieff Morris managed to sink his fade away three-point attempt in the games waning moments, we may still be playing basketball in Dallas. Alas, the shot was far too long, and the Mavericks clinched themselves a playoff berth by a final of 101-98.
Entering the home of a future NBA Hall of Famer in Dirk Nowitzki is never an enviable location when attempting to position yourself for postseason play. In order to be worthy enough to battle the San Antonio Spurs, the Suns will have to play flawless basketball from here on out.
Coming out as a house of fire for the second consecutive night was Eric Bledsoe. Pouring in 17 of 29 total points in the first half, the more able-bodied Slash Brother carried the load on a night where it was obvious Goran Dragic was much less than 100 percent. As explosive as Bledsoe was with the basketball in his hands, going for 29 points and six assists on 11-for-15 shooting, he was the polar opposite defensively.
Negating the tremendous night Bledsoe had, Monta Ellis single-handedly carried the Dallas Mavericks back to the Playoffs. Known throughout his career as a disgruntled ball hog with a low shooting percentage, Ellis silenced his critics with a 15-for-23 performance, including going 3-for-4 from deep, good for 37 points on the night. While sharing the court with perennial MVP candidates in Dirk Nowitzki and Goran Dragic, Ellis was the best player on the floor.
While Channing Frye exploded for a clutch night from the field, Gerald Green could not come remotely close to his performance from the night before. Hammering home five of his six shots from three, Frye put up an impressive 21 points to go along with his six rebounds. Not being able to get full production out of everyone on the same night, Green was not his usual stellar self as he returned to the bench for the game. He finished the night just 2-for-9 from the floor with only nine points and seven rebounds.
Burying themselves in a difficult hole, the Suns still have a plausible escape route. It all starts on Monday night when they collide with a Memphis Grizzlies club that is getting healthy at the right time. The return of Marc Gasol has served as a reminder to fans in Tennessee that if he had managed to stay on the court for the entirety of the season, they would be jockeying for higher seeding, not just a spot in the Playoffs.
In what will be the final game played at the U.S. Airways Center this season, the Suns welcome the Grizzlies to hostile territory at 7 P.M. on Monday night. With a loss, the Suns are eliminated. With a win, they live to fight another day, although they’ll still need some help with the Grizzlies owning the tiebreaker regardless.
For a season in which not much was expected, the following 48 hours will be crucial to the immediate future of Phoenix Suns basketball.