The Phoenix Suns have a tough couple of games ahead of them this weekend as they're scheduled to face a Boston Celtics team tonight that's considered by some to be the best in the league and a very good New Orleans squad on Sunday.
This weekend's contests will be a major test of the team's character. If the Suns are as listless as they have been over their three-game losing streak against the Pistons, 76ers, and Bobcats, the final scores could get ugly.
For the Suns, this is an opportunity to prove that they are a legitimate playoff contender.
For the players, it's a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of their coach, who held a special practice session yesterday with the team's president and managing partner where each player "took a turn sharing what he and the next man could do better to help this 20-24 Suns team," according to the Arizona Republic.
Boston comes to town atop the Eastern Conference standings (34-10). Their game will be nationally televised on ESPN, something that's sure to add extra pressure -- or motivation -- for the Suns. Local viewers can catch it on FSAZ at 8:30.
Shaquille O'Neal has been out with a hip injury for two games but the man once known here in the desert as "the Big Shaqtus" is expected to play against the Suns tonight.
New Orleans is fifth in the West with a 30-16 record. They take a 10-game winning streak into Sacremento on Saturday before coming to Phoenix on Sunday.
Marcin Gortat told reporters yesterday he isn't worried about the concentration problems the Suns have faced in their last few games. He says he's excited to see the Celtics and the Hornets.
He says, "for games like that, a lot of people concentrate extra special."