Suns News

Suns Look to End Season on Positive Note

Nash knows better than anyone than ending one season well can lead to a better future.
(Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: March 30, 2011

With only nine games left in the season and the Suns 4.5 games back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, idealism has turned into realism when it comes to their playoff chances.

“Memphis is playing great and New Orleans is playing great, so all the teams that we’re chasing are playing really good and we’re not,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “So they’re going to get separation. We’re still alive in the playoff race, but we’re on life support.”

With the Suns in need of a miracle to make the postseason, they’re still going to continue to play as if one is in the works. At least, that’s what their co-captains are saying.

“Regardless of where we are, we have to play hard, with dignity and respect each other and the game and play for our fans,” Suns point guard Steve Nash said. “Whether we get in or not, we can walk away and say that we tried. We may not have been good enough, but we tried.

“If we have that attitude, that’s the only we may we can have a miracle and get it. That’s the way we have to approach these games; with maximum effort.”

Two years ago, the Suns found themselves in a similar position, recovering a year later to earn a No. 3 seed and advance to the Western Conference Finals. They finished 46-36 in the 2008-09, only to bounce back to a 54-28 record the following year.

“I think that the fact that we’re disappointed is a good,” Suns small forward Grant Hill said. “I think a lot of franchises would take our record (right now) any day.

“I think two years we knew we didn’t make it to the postseason, but we felt good about ourselves going into the summer. I think that has to be our goal.”

Taking a more concrete approach, Coach Gentry wants his team to work towards finishing with a winning record. But like his captains, he knows that ultimately going into the offseason on an uplifting note could be more important than anything tangible.

And when you listen to Nash and Hill talk about the conclusion of the season, that's what they're more focused on: the team's psyche.

“Maybe it’s some building for next year or we discover something about ourselves, but there’s no gain in having less than (a dedicated) approach,” Nash said. “It’s difficult to be in this position, but I’m not above it, and we’re not above it, and here we are.

“We had a great year last year, but we only have five guys left from last year’s team, so you can’t expect to be exactly where we were last year. If the playoffs happen, we’ll be ecstatic. If it doesn’t, we have to feel like we handled the situation like professionals.”

Having been in this position before, Nash and Hill are speaking from experience. They know taking a turn for the worst right now can have serious repercussions heading into the following season.

“The offseason is long, especially when you’re not in the playoffs so you want to bring back the mindset that you were upset being on the outside looking in,” Hill said. “We also want something to feel good about so we feel like we have a chance to turn things around.”

With less than 10 games left and having lost three straight, that time to cultivate some momentum begins now.

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