It is very evident how NBA players’ minds think when it comes to the level of competition they are playing, the Phoenix Suns on a back-to-back played all their starters against the reserves of the Denver Nuggets.
Then they turn around the second night against the desperate Los Angeles Lakers and they rest their starters, and the reserves were left to fend for themselves against the Lakers at full strength.
The undermanned Suns held their own and played the Lakers and Lebron James and Anthony Davis very close for 3 and half quarters.
The Los Angeles crowd was on edge and very upset with their team for allowing this short-handed team to play them so close, with as much as they had on the line for the Playoffs.
The Suns were still experimenting with the lineup getting ready for the playoff run with their reserves, so the mix of guys that got opportunities were vast.
The Suns played every guy on the team that was available, including Darius Bazeley who had been limited since the trade.
Bazeley play seven minutes and scored 4 points, and the reason he got time was due to the injury to backup Center Bizmack Biombo with 4:26 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
Biombo went to block a shot attempt of Anthony Davis and in midair bumped their knees, and from the looks of it, Bizmack got the worst of it as he was carried off the court by plane clothes DeAndre Ayton.
Prior to that injury, backup Cameron Payne felt some serious pain, going up for a layup and his feet got taken out from under him and he hit the floor on his tailbone.
Payne did not play at all in the second half of the game, which is a shame because he was the difference at putting pressure on the Lakers defense the entire first half.
The backup guard’s night was cut short but he was effective to the tune of 13 points and 4 assists, which is the output the team had been missing from Payne as of late.
I spoke with Cam after the game regarding his night on the floor and the injury:
“Im good, I will be fine, when I hit the floor I was about to get right back up but felt that pain and like oh no let me catch my breathe a minute”
Cam also added that he is aware he will feel the effects of this type of injury in the morning, but does have plenty of time to get ready for the postseason.
Speaking of the postseason, the Suns opponent is still not clear, but regardless they could find themselves facing a California team either way for the first-round matchup.
The Lakers 121-107 win puts them back in the seven seed in the play-in tournament, and the Clippers and Warriors are battling for the number five spot with two days left in the season.
The Suns play the Clippers in their final game of the regular season, that game means nothing to the Suns but can be everything for the Clippers getting the fifth spot.
The lineup for both teams in that game will determine where the team’s mindset is according to what team they’d rather face in the first round.
The Suns could rest their starters again and give the Clippers a better chance to win and stay in the fifth seed, on the other hand, the Clippers could also rest their starters and relent to being the 6 seed and avoid playing a team like the Suns which would put Golden State in the fifth seed.
This would allow two of the better teams in the Western Conference to beat each other to death, allowing one of those intimidating teams to be eliminated early.
Regardless the playoffs will be very exciting, from the play-in to the Chip, and on the West side it’s so far up in the air as to who is the best team.