I feel like I'm going to puke, and I'm really busy. This book is getting hectic, and I say that both for the sympathy vote (what vote?) and as a teaser.
About Suns/Warriors: Amare is still the best undersized center in the world. Against a team like Golden State, the Suns can go small, use Diaw where once Marion existed, and pray that defense gets lost in the shuffle. It just doesn't seem that Shaq gives them the best chance to win in that kind of situation. Against the Spurs, on the other hand, they go big from the outset.
I just wonder, though, if it can really be all that simple. If this team's going with the dual-consciousness approach—and after a game last night, it's hard to imagine them not doing this—then don't they have to establish some kind of hierarchy, or overlap, or intersection, of the two? Let's face it, while Shaq has been active, he still impedes Nash's natural flow. It becomes a paint-centric team, where the lane's a fort as opposed to a fly-over. With time, you have to assume that the two worlds will draw closer to each other, and yet "opposites attract" doesn't always make for harmony. I always thought that said Paula Abdul song was about rough sex and flying dishes.
I'm assuming Nash will ultimately adjust, and look right playing with either approach. But you have to wonder what's better: To make these two different "looks" separate but equal, or view Shaq as a weapon of necessity. Given how much of a role psychology already plays on that team—Diaw's inability to produce off the bench, for one—it seems like most obvious basketball solution might end up corroding this team from the inside out. Does Shaq really want to be seen as a guy who shows up only when the fun stops, the cops show up, and someone needs rescuing from the clink?
As I was saying about Houston this week, I think identity is very important to teams. In that case, it was how teams can rally around, or be subconsciously set into motion by, a very particular stylistic ideal. Here, we might see that working in the negative: How Phoenix defines itself could end up adversely affecting some player's brains. The human mind is the ultimate liability.