It’s sort of sad watching the Suns set on one of the finest and most unlikely Hall of Fame careers in NBA history. Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns lost again last night, this time at home to a sub .500 Charlotte team, begging the obvious question, are the Suns run as a contender in the West over.
The answer is a resounding yes – and the sad thing about watching Steve Nash begin to enter the twilight of his career isn’t Nash’s play; it’s the play of the team and general management moves around him.
Nash was every bit as brilliant as ever last night, scoring 27 points and dishing out 15 assists. The 37 year old Canadian-born point guard might have lost a step, but if that’s the case it’s only because he was already a step ahead of the rest of the league. Unless Nash forces the Suns hand into making a deal before the trade deadline, it is likely Nash’s career will end without reaching then NBA Finals. If he remains in Phoenix, it’s possible we’ve seen his wizardry in the Playoffs for the last time as well.
Nash is no longer a top-5 point guard in the NBA. Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Derron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook are clearly a step ahead. But there aren’t too many more names to add to the list. There’s no doubt Nash could be a huge help for a title contender in May or June.
Here’s hoping he gets the chance to do so.
Today’s FREE NBA Picks
Miami Heat -3 @ New York Knicks (Total: 209.5)
LeBron James and the Heat take their collective talents to the Mecca tonight for a fantastic TNT nationally-televised tilt tonight. For the Heat, the addition of Mike Miller has been tempered with the indefinite absence of their only reasonable inside scoring threat, Chris Bosh.
The Heat have won eight straight over the Knicks, including a 113-91 win at New York and a twelve point home win several weeks ago. The absence of Bosh is definitely a concern when it comes to corralling the Knicks MVP candidate, Amar’e Stoudamire, however the additional firepower and spot-up shooting ability of Mike Miller is a new wrinkle the Knicks haven’t previously had to defend.
Both teams have stumbled a little bit of late. The Knicks have dropped seven of nine, while the Heat ended a season-high four game skid with their win over Toronto four nights ago.
As well as the Knicks have played at times this year, their reputation might be slightly ahead of their production. Their 11-9 mark at Madison Square Garden is pretty poor by playoff team standards, where you expect home winning percentages to be closer to 65-70%.
The Heat are an excellent defensive team, and defense tends to travel better than offense. The three point line feels a bit small given the talent disparity and the fact the Heat are very well rested having not played a game since Saturday the 22nd.
I like the Heat on the road laying the three points.
Houston Rockets @ Dallas Mavericks -5.5 (Total: 204)
Saying Dallas has not been playing their best basketball over the past four weeks would be a gross understatement. However they showed some signs of emerging from the offensive funk putting up 112 points in their win over the Clippers Tuesday night.
Dallas is usually pretty solid at home, 16-8 on the year, while the Rockets have predictably struggled on the road at just 9-15. The Rockets depend heavily on the offensive output of Kevin Martin, one of the leading scorers in the league at just over 23 ppg. However Martin has had his struggles against the Mavs, averaging just 15 points in his last three trips to Dallas; all losses.
Tonight is also the back end of a back-to-back after beating the Clippers 96-83 last night. It marks the beginning of a long and brutal four-game road swing that includes visits to San Antonio and the Lakers yet to come.
All the numbers, plus the “back-to-back factor” all favor Dallas. I like them laying the five and a half.