At least they firmly control what really matters.
The Suns returned to the AT&T Center for practice Saturday every bit as relaxed as the night before, when general manager Steve Kerr was comparing Goran Dragic(notes) with Michael Jordan and Phoenix left with its most commanding playoff series lead in five years.
Steve Nash(notes) lounged courtside. Amare Stoudemire shot jumpers in fashionably geek, Elvis Costello-like glasses. Hill revealed that he spoke with NBA commissioner David Stern about writing a book, something along the lines of Bill Bradley’s “Life on the Run.”
He’s now got a better read in mind: these Suns, so close to dealing Stoudemire at midseason and starting over, now sitting a victory from ousting their longtime playoff nemesis and reaching the Western Conference finals.
“What’s happened this season, and the things that we’ve gone through, and how special and unique this team is?” Hill said. “It should have been documented. I’m still kicking myself.”
And the Spurs?
They were across town, sullen and frustrated and mulling what history says will be the final chapter written about them this season.
No team in the NBA playoffs has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. Tim Duncan(notes) has been in this position only once before heading into a Game 4, in the 2001 West finals. The Los Angeles Lakers wound up womping San Antonio by 29 points.
Only a week ago were the Spurs being hailed as perhaps the best No. 7 seed in NBA history after impressively dumping Dallas in six games. Now they are looking like, well, like just about every other seventh seed in NBA history.
On the eve of Sunday night’s Game 4 in San Antonio, coach Gregg Popovich still had a sense of humor after the Spurs emerged Saturday from their film session—which likely starred a backup, unheralded Suns guard shredding them for 23 points in the fourth quarter.
“Didn’t you see the guys come out of there cheering?” Popovich joked. “Some were crying, some were cheering. It was very emotional.”
“Everybody’s surprised,” said Parker, who scored just 10 points in Game 3 after averaging 23 in the first two games. “We played very good against Dallas. Now we’re in a bad situation.”
Hill remembers the Suns having that feeling just three months ago.
It was during the All-Star break, when Stoudemire put his chances of being traded at 50-50 and the Suns started pulling out of a two-month tailspin. Going into the break having won five of six, Hill retreated to Cabo San Lucas with his wife and kept his fingers crossed.
“It was almost like, ‘I hope they don’t blow this team up,”’ Hill said. “Because I feel like whatever it is, we discovered it. We figured out that formula.”
Kerr said that feeling was universal.
“We had a pretty good thing going,” Kerr said. “We weren’t playing great at the time, but that’s why I maintained all along it was going to take something really good for us to break up the team.”
Had that happened, Stoudemire wouldn’t be on the brink of beating the Spurs in the playoffs for the first time in five tries since 2003.
Not that the Suns are getting ahead of themselves.
“Somebody said it’s 88-0 when you’re 3-0,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “You know what, there’s also a situation where a man didn’t walk on the moon until 1969.”