Strange for Suns as D’Antoni rejoins Nash
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Three story lines for Monday’s eight-game NBA slate (all times p.m. Eastern):
What must Phoenix Suns fans be thinking right now?
Denver Nuggets at Suns, 9: The men who built their dynasty are reunited in enemy territory. The Suns have made one playoff appearance since Mike D’Antoni left town, though they reached the Western Conference finals that year (2010). Now the men who built up the franchise over the past decade are reunited in enemy territory. Any hurt Suns fans felt when Steve Nash joined the Los Angeles Lakers must be amplified with Mike D’Antoni hired as coach. Now they host a game against another former D’Antoni team, the Nuggets, who he started his head-coaching career with unsuccessfully. Expect signs and chants from the crowd. And while you’re at it, expect a decent basketball game. Denver has won four in a row after an 0-3 start, and Phoenix has been solid at home.
Can the Chicago Bulls gain momentum?
Boston Celtics at Bulls, 8: The Bulls wrap up a five-game homestand before heading west for a five-game roadtrip. Every win for Chicago is crucial as it waits out Derrick Rose’s return. The Celtics are one of the Bulls’ top competitors for seeding the Eastern Conference, and they’ve struggled this season. Their three wins have come by a combined 13 points, and they needed overtime against the Washington Wizards. But the Bulls may be without point guard Kirk Hinrich, who strained his hip against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Can Nate Robinson handle Rajon Rondo?
Who will be on the court for the NBA’s most banged-up teams?
Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30: Let’s go through them quickly. The T’wolves will be without Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and possibly Brandon Roy. The Mavs will be without Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, and Vince Carter is playing in pain. Give credit to these two teams: They both have weathered serious injuries to arguably their two best players and are above .500. The Mavs are 3-0 at home, and the pressure will be on the T’wolves frontcourt of Andrei Kirilenko, Nikola Pekovic and Derrick Williams to take advantage of … [For more on Tonight's NBA schedule: Strange for Suns fans as Mike D'Antoni rejoins Steve Nash, click here.]