Well, this is it... last chance to talk smack about how great the Clippers are before the team has to go out there and actually back up the talk.
The good news about tonight's opponent is that the Lakers once again demonstrated how beatable the Suns are. Amare played a total of 12 minutes, and though he showed some flashes, I gotta figure there was a pretty good reason he only played 12 minutes. Moreover, Phoenix's team defense is just pathetic. Poor Kurt Thomas, who is easily the best defender on the team, isn't good enough to stay in front of Lamar Odom, and no one was ever even CLOSE to helping him.
At the same time, there is some bad news. Phoenix proved it's entirely capable of putting up huge points when the shots are falling, as they were in the first quarter. They scored 30 points on their first 15 shots. Also in the bad news category - the Suns are going to have a lot of motivation on National TV tonight after being embarassed on National TV last night. They may be tired playing the second game of back-to-backs, but the chances of catching them flat are zero.
The consensus among the pundits seems to be that the Clippers are interesting, but simply not as good as the Suns, Mavs and Spurs in the west. That's certainly the safe thinking.
But, here it is Nov. 1, and as I look at the standings, the Clippers are tied with the Spurs and Mavs, and a half game ahead of the Suns. If they've been able keep the pace with those teams so far, why can't they do it all season?
Seriously, it's not difficult to see the weaknesses in Phoenix's game. Maybe it's time we just start saying the Clippers are better. It is also true that the Suns success is pretty much predicated on the health of a 32-year-old point guard with a balky back.
As for San Antonio, at this point, they'd aspire to be the Clippers, but they'd still be a lot older. Tim Duncan wishes he could put up Elton Brand's numbers. Bruce Bowen is 35, and can almost recall the days when he could defend like Quinton Ross. Tony Parker already had his break-out season... now it's Shaun Livingston's turn. The Spurs are a team that is counting on significant contributions from 4 players over 33 - Finley, Bowen, Barry and Horry. As for Elson and Butler, there's a reason they were available at such bargain price tags.
Dallas is solid, but not awesome. Particularly in the playoffs, if you have the right game plan, a team that is overly-dependent on a single scorer is vulnerable - look what happened to Denver against the Clippers last year.
So let's get this started. I can't wait.