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Robin Lopez could miss playoffs, which means Suns would set early

Apr 12, 2010, 9:59 AM EST

There are a couple of ways to beat the Suns in a playoff series. One is to simply shut down Steve Nash, and stop his pick-and-roll with Amare Stoudemire. What could be simpler?

Not fond of option one? Well, option number two is to pound the ball inside on offense, score in the paint, and dominate the boards on both ends of the floor. That sounds a little bit easier, doesn’t it?

It’s been even easier with Robin Lopez sidelined as he has been for the last eight games with back problems. The Suns have gone 6-2 in that stretch, but not exactly against the toughest of competition (the Spurs and Thunder were the only real quality teams they faced).

When the playoffs start Saturday, the competition will be tougher. And the Suns are planning for life without Lopez, coach Alvin Gentry told FanHouse.

“He’s going to be evaluated [Monday], then we’ll see from there what happens,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’s making some progress, but we have to assume that he’s not going to be with us. And then if he ends up being with us, then that would be a huge bonus for us.”

Lopez is scarcely a part of the Suns high-powered offense. But he is their defensive anchor inside. The guy that makes it hard to just beat the Suns by pounding on them. Robin Lopez is not the most gifted of centers, but he’s tough.

And the Suns need tough. Especially in the first round of the playoffs when they could face Utah or Denver, two teams that love to pound. But the Suns may well have to get by without him, and that may mean an early exit.

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