In that post, I mentioned that it's most likely the Suns will finish in the 7-10 range, which has absolutely turned out to be true. In that, I refute the notion this Suns team has overachieved - they're exactly where I, and many other Suns writers and fans expected them to be.
To get the best picture of the past 66 games, it's best to split this season in two - pre-All-Star break and post-All-Star break.
Leading into the break, the Suns sported a 14-20 record, hovering around 13th place in the West. The only consistent Suns during this time were Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat. Nash played well enough to earn his eighth All-Star selection, while Gortat received some backing from the media as a candidate for the reserve center spot. Everyone else struggled, to the point that coach Alvin Gentry resorted to starting the one dimensional defensive specialist Ronnie Price for a short stretch. The offense was stagnant outside of the Nash-Gortat pick and roll, and the defense was even worse. Pre-All-Star, the Suns were massively underachieving.
All-Star weekend treated us to four minutes and four assists from Nash, and allowed the rest of the Suns to get some rest. It was around this time that backup point guard Sebastian Telfair, seemingly out of nowhere and at the time, somewhat questionably called out the coaching staff and asked for more trust in he and the rest of the second unit.
As a result of this, or more likely Gentry thinking "Why the hell not?", the Suns bench started to see more minutes. With minutes came confidence, and eventually chemistry, resulting in pretty-good-for-backups play from Telfair, Michael Redd, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris and Robin Lopez. Many will point to this as the turning point in the Suns' season, to which I have no objection. It was well established that the Suns starting five had no problems building leads, as their league-best plus-minus showed. Now with a functional bench, the Suns found themselves winning more games, leading eventually to a 19-12 post-All-Star record and finishing just three games shy of the playoffs, in a race that lasted until the second last game of the season.
The Suns threw together a rag-tag collection of role-players, prospects and has-beens on mostly one year contracts, hoping to compete while maintaining an eye (and the necessary flexibility) towards the bigger prize of 2012 free agency.
Before I delve into results at an individual level, I'll give your eyes a rest and offer you the following highlights of the 2011-12 Suns:
Steve Nash Birthday Game Winner
Markieff Morris Poster on Blake Griffin
Jared Dudley Gets Fired Up (What's Up?! What's Up?! WHAT'S UP?!)
Hakim Warrick, Dunker
Steve Nash Passes Oscar Robertson For #5 All Time Assists
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