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xGames  The chants

Maybe http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-richard-rodgers-jersey , just maybe, the worst is behind the Phoenix Suns.

Their 50th anniversary season was awful, even worse than the two that came before.

For the eighth season in a row, the Suns won’t make the playoffs. The win totals the past three seasons: 23, 24 and – this year 21. That 21-61 mark is the worst since Phoenix went 16-66 in its inaugural 1968-69 season.

The season devolved in the final months, with injuries depleting the already exceedingly young roster, leaving a contingent of G League transfers to fill out the lineup in the final days. The Suns lost a franchise-record 15 straight in one stretch.

Now, everyone involved is insisting, enough is enough.

”I’m done with not making the playoffs,” rising star Devin Booker said as the players cleaned out their lockers and conducted exit interviews Wednesday. ”I’m serious. This is probably my last year ever not making the playoffs. If that’s putting pressure on myself, I’m going to take this summer and work that hard so that it doesn’t happen again.”

His goal is ”turning the franchise around and getting it back how it used to be.”

8”You watch the highlights of Barkley, Nash and them and how alive the arena was,” Booker said. ”So one of my goals is to get it back that way.”

Booker Marquez Valdes-Scantling Color Rush Jersey , T.J. Warren and rookie Josh Jackson form the core of the young talent the Suns have accumulated. Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss could be part of it, too, although their development has been uneven.

But Phoenix needs experienced players, and not just old guys to cheer on from the sidelines.

”The voice in the locker room or the voice when they’re teaching carries a lot more weight when the person is contributing,” interim coach Jay Triano said, ”not just there as a teacher. … They need those guys on the court to follow.”

General manager Ryan McDonough agrees the time is come to ratchet up investment. To begin with, Phoenix has the most ping pong balls in the May 15 lottery and a chance at the No. 1 overall pick. At worst, the Suns will draft No. 4. They will have one, and maybe two, more first-round picks.

”We’ll be one of five or six teams with more than $10 million in cap space,” McDonough said, ”and I think we have the ability to create significantly more if we want it.”

So the assets are there if they can be translated into needed players, and not teenagers http://www.broncosauthorizedshops.com/authentic-royce-freeman-jersey , except that early first-round pick.

Three years of concentrating on acquiring this young talent is long enough, McDonough said.

”If you go beyond that I think the losing starts to set in and the guys start to become accustomed to that and the bar is lower,” he said. ”Next year we’re going to try to raise the bar. We’re going to try to raise our standards. We won’t be as young. We won’t have nearly as many young players as we had last year.”

A couple of things to consider after the Suns’ miserable season.

COACH SEARCH: McDonough said the search will begin immediately for a head coach with a list of five to 10 candidates in mind.

Triano would like the job. He took over after Earl Watson was fired just three games into the season.

McDonough said he would like to have a coach in place before the draft combine and lottery in mid-May.

BOOKER’S CONTRACT: The Suns would like to have Booker sign a maximum contract extension in the offseason and he’s open to the idea.

Triano knows that Booker is tired of losing and believes things will get better for his budding star with more experienced talent around him.

”He looks around the locker room and sees what it is and he knows that it’s time,” Triano said. ”I think the growth that he’s gone through individually as a leader and the capability he’s been able to show as a scorer has set the tone to make this an attractive place and to have him be the focal part of that. People around the league want to play with Devin Booker.”

KNIGHT IN WAITING: One of the biggest needs for Arizona is at point guard, and they’ve had one watching from the sidelines all season.

Brandon Knight, left over from the old days of three point guards with Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas, missed the entire season with a torn ACL. Once stuck at the end of the bench with no playing time when he was able to go, he’s being talked about as the starter alongside Booker next year.

”As a competitor, as a winner, I just love to play the game,” Knight said. ”I had the game taken away from me by the injuries and due to other things. … I’m just trying to help the Suns in any way I can.”




Maybe this is the year.

Maybe the Golden State Warriors, opening the postseason without Stephen Curry or any momentum, won’t be the best of the West Cheap Saquon Barkley Jersey , where there’s a Houston team that can run and gun as well as they do.

Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers, starting from the middle of the pack in the East, just have too big a hill to climb, even with LeBron James carrying them.

Or perhaps none of that matters, and the NBA is headed toward Round 4 of its reigning rivalry.

The postseason opens Saturday and it’s far from a guarantee it ends with a record fourth straight NBA Finals matchup between the Warriors and Cavaliers. Neither was the best team in its conference during the regular season – the Cavaliers were only No. 4 in the East – and it’s not hard to envision a Houston to Toronto trip replacing what’s become an annual Oakland, California, to Cleveland itinerary.

Then again, the Warriors could be as dangerous as ever once Curry returns from a knee injury that could have him back for the second round. James has played in the last seven NBA Finals, so nobody knows how to get to the finish line better, no matter from where he starts.

And the other top contenders have to overcome their history of disappointments. Houston’s Mike D’Antoni and James Harden have never won, and Chris Paul hasn’t even gotten out of the second round. The Raptors had their best regular season ever, but they were last seen in the postseason getting stomped in four straight by James and the Cavs last year in the second round.

Golden State faces No. 7 San Antonio on Saturday in the postseason opener, followed by the top-seeded Raptors and No. 8 Washington Wizards in the East. Sixth-seeded Miami and No. 3 Philadelphia are then followed by Portland-New Orleans in the other 3-6 matchup.

On Sunday Tyler Anderson Colorado Rockies Jersey , it’s No. 7 Milwaukee at No. 2 Boston, and the Cavs hosting the No. 5 Indiana Pacers in the East, followed by No. 5 Utah at No. 4 Oklahoma City. The Rockets wrap up opening weekend against No. 8 Minnesota, ending the NBA’s longest playoff drought with its first playoff appearance since 2004.

A look at some things to watch in the first round:

GOLDEN AGAIN?

Curry’s injury is the only one that remains, but the Warriors at one point down the stretch were also without Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, too. Even the champions couldn’t overcome that, dropping six of their final 10 games, but they start against a San Antonio team whose injury problems are every bit as bad, assuming Kawhi Leonard doesn’t return after missing almost the entire season.

STREAKING SIXERS

Philadelphia is the hottest team in the postseason, winning its final 16 games to finish 52-30. But the 76ers are led by postseason newcomers in Joel Embiid and rookie Ben Simmons – and Embiid is still recovering from a broken orbital bone and concussion as the postseason begins – and will have to overcome their inexperience and a rugged Miami team.

THUNDER STRIKE?

It was an up-and-down regular season for Oklahoma City, which acquired Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to play with Russell Westbrook but finished well back of Houston and Golden State. But the Thunder might be one of those teams better built for the postseason, and they got an easier road when they won three straight to grab home-court advantage against a Utah team that would have had it before a season-ending loss at Portland.

BANGED-UP BOSTON

There’s no more Kyrie Irving and there was only Gordon Hayward for a few minutes all season Boone Logan Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , so the Celtics are being overlooked despite their No. 2 seed in the East. But there’s plenty of young (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) and veteran (Al Horford, Marcus Morris) talent on a 55-game winner that features one of the league’s best coaches in Brad Stevens.

WHO WINS?

As good as Toronto is, it seems futile picking against James and the firepower around him to get to the NBA Finals. But the Cavaliers don’t defend well enough and can be picked apart by top offenses, so go with the West champion to win the title, particularly if it’s Golden State or Houston.


Take it from another champion.

”I like Houston and Golden State, pending their health, as being my top two favorites,” five-time winner Kobe Bryant said during a conference call to promote his new basketball analysis show ”Detail” that will run on ESPN during the postseason.



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08.08.2018 04:20
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