Friday, May 07, 2010

Suns vs. Spurs again?

Well, it's war time. The Suns have won two home games, and now it's time for them to take the show on the road. The Spurs have been the team to knock the Suns out in 05, 07, and 08. 07 was the controversial series involving the suspension of Stoudemire and Diaw which effectively decided the NBA title for that year, since the Dallas Mavericks, who had won 67 games in the regular season, mysteriously disappeared against the Golden State Warriors and were replaced by zombies.

Unfortunately, although some misfortunes followed the Suns in each of those defeats, the problem largely had to do with the fact that their teams were coached in a way that works for the regular season but not for the playoffs. Mike D'Antoni used a short bench, emphasized offense over defense, and didn't rebound well. But they could simply outrun and outscore most teams.The Spurs could and did beat them in bench strength, defense, and rebounding. Time and again some role player who spent most of the game on the bench would come in and make a critical play. Steve Nash had to play with pretty much no backup. So if the Suns had to play without someone, such as when they were missing Joe Johnson in 05 or when Stoudemire was suspended in 07, there wasn't enough of a bench to take up the slack. Gregg Popovich exploited these weaknesses, and therefore consistently outcoached D'Antoni at playoff time. D'Antoni is a very good coach, but his methods left the team something of a playoff underachiever.

After the arrivals and departures of Shaquille O'Neal and Terry Porter, the Suns put Alvin Gentry in charge, who has the Suns playing up-tempo like before, has his team playing better defense than its predecessors, and has 10 players who see action every game. He's not afraid to hand the keys over to backup point guard Goran Dragic. He likes to make sure Nash doesn't go back in until 6 minutes are left in the fourth quarter, when he can play at a 100% energy level to close out games.

Now the Suns have nothing in the bag, and  the three best players on the Spurs don't look as if they have lost anything. Popovich and the Spurs have already whacked the no. 2 seed Dallas Mavericks in six games, although the Mavericks are, for the most part, even worse playoff underachievers than the Suns. I think the Suns have the best chance ever to beat the Spurs, but one cannot underestimate a team which is one of the greatest playoff basketball teams in the history of the NBA.


Anonymous said...

Suns up 3-0. Go Nash go!

Anonymous said...

Go Dragic go!

Anonymous said...

Los Suns, politics and race are everything after all

Victor Reppert said...

Actually, the Spurs were in complete agreement with the Suns on the political issue. Viva free speech.

Not bad for a team whose starting center is out with an injury.