15 Footer – Steve Nash Runs Barter Town

Why should you watch the NBA tonight instead of Monday Night Football? First of all, that’s football and this is basketball. But second, third, fourth, five and sixth of all, these reasons:

Who Run This?
Phoenix Suns @ Philadelphia 76ers – 7:00 pm

This is easily the game of the night. It might not exactly be the Seven Seconds or Less days again in Phoenix, but the Steve-Nash-Is-Back-Bitches Suns are running. They haven’t scored below 100 points yet this year, in the process dropping 123 points in a 109-possession game against the Warriors the other day and even beating Boston by provoking the normally slow, defensive-minded Celtics into an offensive shootout where both teams finished north of 54% eFG. The normal stats are showing the speed, too, as an absurd four Suns had double-doubles yesterday (Nash: 17/11, Hill: 13/13, Frye: 18/10 and Amaré: 17/12). And J-Rich is putting heads to bed, straight out the box, sticking 10 of his last 14 treys and 19 of his last 32 shots overall in the past two outings.

Meanwhile, Eddie Jordan is now in charge in Rocky Town, and he is trying to get the Sixers to play as quickly as Agent Zero and company used to in DC. (They’re only 16th in pace currently at 92.7, but should get faster.) And why shouldn’t they? With Iguodala, Young Thad, Louis Williams and Marreese Speights, he has the young horses to keep it going all game. Lou Will and Speights, in particular, are flourishing early. Prepare for one of these teams, likely Phoenix, to win this one 120-115 as I stand and cheer at my TV set while clapping like a trained seal.

Once Every 76 Years
Utah Jazz @ New York Knicks – 7:30 pm

I have no idea what the Jazz are all about. Their schedule has been fairly tough early as they’ve had to face four likely Western Playoff teams in Denver, San Antonio, Dallas and, perhaps, Houston. They are 1-3 in those games, however, beating only the Spurs at home. They’ve also faced the Clippers and Sacramento, beating the former and losing to the latter, both at home. Seems like they’re not good then, right? But they did house San Antonio and just have a ton of talent. Then again, they have been uncharacteristically horrible on defense, sitting at 25th in the league in defensive efficiency. No, they’ve never been stalwarts with this roster anyway, but they’ve always been above average and never this bad in fourth quarters; so far they’ve given up 32, 34 and 44 points in the final period in three of their losses. Pretty tough to win games that way. It’s early, but let’s keep a look out for this to see if “we’re inexplicably terrible in the fourth quarter” becomes Utah’s new “we’re inexplicably horrible on the road.”

The Knicks, on the other hand are easy to characterize: unambigiously terrible. But they run and that can be fun, especially if Sloan throws his players a bone and lets them show D’Antoni what a capable roster can do in the open court. Essentially, New York is same team as last year, so there would seemingly be no reason to tune in, right? WRONG. As Kelly Dwyer informed me last night, “Larry Hughes has made 15 out of 19 shots from the 16-23 foot range this year, 79 percent. I believe his percentage entering 09-10 was 12%.” This is historic. We are seeing Halley’s Comet here. It will be viewable in your time zone at 7:30 pm this evening. Set your watches or forever tell your grandkids “Halley’s Coment? Nah, missed it. I was watching Kyle Orton play football cause I’m an dunce.”

They’re Taking All Our Good Basketball Jobs
Toronto Raptors @ San Antonio Spurs – 8:30 pm

Break out the trapezoid lanes. It’s a FIBA party. The Raptors are actually the most non-American roster of these two these days, as the San Antonio roster is left with only Manu (Argentina) and Frenchy (France) as the last meaningful foreigners standing — and Tony is by all accounts not even playing tonight cause he tweaked his ankle last Friday. (UPDATE: He’s not playing this evening.) Toronto, on the contrary, is rolling with Hedo (Turkey), Jose Calderon (Spain), Andrea Bargnani (Italy), Rasho (Slovenia) and Marco Bellinelli (Italy). In fact, if it wasn’t for Georgia Tech (alma mata of Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack) and the state of California (birth place of DeMar DeRozen, Antoine Wright and Amir Johnson), this team could compete internationally. So either (a) watch this game, or (b) you’re nothing but a dirty jingoist.

Western Conference Finals Preview?
Minnesota Wolves @ Golden State Warriors – 10:30 pm

Unless this one finishes in a tie, someone is getting their second win. But I have some good news for you, Wolves fans. Sure, your team might be going on the road for the second game of a back-to-back after getting blown out by the Blazers last night. HOW-EVER, the Warriors are on the second half of a back-to-back, they own selves, and just got blown out by the Sacramento Kings of all people. As far as blow-outs go, yours is waaaay less worse. Seriously, guys. Losing to the Blazers by 23? That’s totally respectable. But look at the pathetic Warriors. They lost to the Kings by 13 and it took them a big fourth quarter comeback to even keep it that close. So don’t sweat it. You got this. Plus, there’s always the Nets. And the Knicks. Really, there’s no way you’re any worse than the 27th best team in the league. Now go out there and show that Nellie Ball tomfoolery how a real offense is run.

Wait.

What’s that, you say? Kurt Rambis is trying to run The Triangle in Minneaplois? Without Tex Winter? And with Corey Brewer prominently involved? Oh. Go ahead and forget everything I just said.

Live From Sloan-Kettering
New Orleans H
ornets @ Los Angeles Clippers – 10:30 pm

Watching the Hornets play is sort of like watching your closest relative die of terminal cancer. You love them with every fiber of your being and you never stop feigning optimism, but you know there is no hope of recovery. You have seen the (depth) chart. You know time is short and that things will never be the same. You look into Chris Paul’s eyes and silently recall your shared past. The memories you relive together in those moments will never die, but he certainly will. It’s over. It’s gone. You both know it and there is nothing either one of you can do to stop it. The only thing to do is enjoy the short fleeting moments you have left together until the inoperable tumor (in this case Bobby Brown) kills something you love.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are kind of fun. Eric Gordon’s jumper belongs in the Louvre, Baron Davis’ beard deserves an Academy Award and the squad will probably be flirting with .500 all season.

Seth Carstens