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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Suns Rout Spurs, Even Series at 1-1

The Phoenix Suns salvaged their season--for the moment--with a 101-81 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, evening their Western Conference semifinal series at 1-1. The next two games will be played in San Antonio, so a Phoenix loss would have resulted in a 2-0 deficit that would have likely meant almost certain elimination. The Suns still must win at least one road game to regain the homecourt advantage. Steve Nash had 20 points and 16 assists, though he shot an un-Nash like 7-17 (.412). Amare Stoudemire contributed 27 points and nine rebounds. He was slightly outshined by Tim Duncan (29 points, 11 rebounds, two blocked shots) but Duncan received no help from his teammates, who combined to shoot just 21-57 (.368). Superstars' games are portable but most everyone else plays better at home, so if form holds then Duncan's supporting cast will do better in the next two games while Nash's (other than Stoudemire) will do worse.

The Spurs led 25-19 after the first quarter but their offense simply died the rest of the way. The story of this game was not so much about the Suns' uptempo style versus the Spurs' preferred slower pace but simply about the Suns making shots and the Spurs missing them. Still, Phoenix had two 30 point quarters; L.A. Lakers' Coach Phil Jackson's philosophy for beating the Suns stipulates that you have to limit them to one 30 point quarter per game, so the Spurs' usually great defense was somewhat subpar--but that is also a function of missing so many shots, which naturally feeds the other team's fastbreak.

As great as the Spurs are, it would have been surprising for them to take two games in Phoenix. The Suns are a very good team and, obviously, had the better regular season record (that is why they have homecourt advantage in the series--or, had it before Game One). The Suns knew that they had to win this game and I suspect that when this series is over we will see that they played their best game on Tuesday while the Spurs played their worst. Expect two hard fought games in San Antonio. The Spurs will probably take a 3-1 lead before the series heads back to Phoenix but I would not put it past the Suns to get one win in San Antonio, forcing the Spurs to win Game Five on the road and close the series out at home in Game Six.

posted by David Friedman @ 7:39 AM


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At Wednesday, May 09, 2007 9:01:00 AM, Blogger jmo21 said...

"The Spurs will probably take a 3-1 lead before the series heads back to Phoenix but I would not put it past the Suns to get one win in San Antonio"

talk about hedging your bets!!! sheesh!

At Wednesday, May 09, 2007 1:23:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

the suns played great steve nash was like wayne gretzky out there what a player the suns won the game all they got to do is get game 3 or 4 if they do that there fine if they dont theyll lose simple as that they have the better team as far as talent it's a mental thing they rather win game 3 than 4 because it will be hard to beat san antonio 2 straght times so if they win 3 they can win 5 and 7.

At Wednesday, May 09, 2007 5:18:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I'm not hedging my bets--I've picked the Spurs all along to win the series and I am still picking them. If Phx wins two in San Antonio I will be very surprised. I expect San Antonio to win the next two but Phx could steal one. What I'm saying is that I think that at least one of the two games in San Antonio will be close enough for Phx to steal; that's all. Either way, the Spurs will win the series in six games at the most.

At Thursday, May 10, 2007 3:54:00 PM, Blogger alternaviews said...

" Either way, the Spurs will win the series in six games at the most."

no way -- Phx in 7 ...and if not then SanAn in 7. but this thing wont be decided in 6

At Thursday, May 10, 2007 4:57:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I think that the number one thing that throws people off the trail in trying to predict what will happen in a playoff series is being too swayed by the score of a particular game. Barring injuries, ejections or something else that takes out a key player from either team, the most important thing to look at is how the teams match up with each other overall. Can a team sustain what it did well to win a particular game or can the other team make an adjustment? That is why during the first round that after Game One in the Spurs-Den series and Game One in the Dall-G.S. series I came to two different conclusions: the Spurs would still win very easily despite losing one game, while the Mavs had their hands full (I still thought at that time that Dall would win, but not easily).

In a series between two good teams the team that ultimately loses will probably win a couple games; the point is that whatever they do well--or the other team does poorly--in those games is not something that they can sustain for four games. The Spurs lost one game to Denver but showed their clear superiority by sweeping the next four. San Antonio has demonstrated superiority over Phx for several years now. Phx played well in a must win Game Two after already ceding homecourt advantage in Game One but that does not mean that they will be able to play as well in Games Three and Four in San Antonio. For one thing, look for Ginobili to play much better as the series shifts to Texas.

At Friday, May 11, 2007 1:16:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

this is going to be a war i think phoenix wins in 7 if they split if snaantonio win both at home they win in 6 thats how the series wil go steve nash career and legacy is on the line he gets alot of credit for the team so he will have to play the whole series like games 1 and 2 or he will not be a magic johnson type point i think and everbody thinks he is except david of course hell be with mark price an kj just very good.

At Friday, May 11, 2007 1:17:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

he's not as good as magic anyway thats my mistake

At Friday, May 11, 2007 1:38:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I am not convinced that the Suns can take more than two games off the Spurs in a seven game series (i.e., one game in addition to the game they already won). Phx is a good team but the Spurs have been a title contender and/or champion for most of Duncan's career and I expect them to win the series in six games.

Nash is not the same caliber of player that Magic was; get back to me when Nash wins five titles, multiple Finals MVPs and puts up triple doubles at the rate that Magic did.

I still don't get why it is an insult to compare Nash to Price or KJ. Forget that Nash has won two MVPs and just compare Nash's numbers to their numbers--you can throw in Stockton as well. I don't have a problem with someone saying that Nash is the best player in that group--though I would take Stockton--but I don't see how Nash can be considered head and shoulders above those guys. IF Nash wins a championship and earns a Finals MVP then he has something over those guys but for now their accomplishments are certainly on par with his, to say the least; Stockton's career totals actually dwarf Nash's, of course.

At Friday, May 11, 2007 12:35:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

yeah he aint messing with magic but i think he is better than those other guys you put on the list time will tell funny thing was before he came to phoenix he wasnt on my radar screen how did he get so good so fast he was considered a very good player in dallas not top 5 or 2 time mvp type of player him and phoenix was a great match he great but they got 2 get 1 out of 2 or there going to get beat

At Friday, May 11, 2007 4:05:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

As I've said before, I think that Nash was somewhat underrated when he played for Dallas and is somewhat overrated now--by that I mean that he was an excellent point guard as a Mav, though not everyone seemed to realize that, and that he is the best point guard in the league now but not necessarily the best player overall and certainly not the greatest point guard of all-time.

I'd be interested to hear you give a concrete reason why Nash is better than Stockton. Stockton averaged more assists and more steals, led the league in assists many more times, made the All-Defensive Team on several occasions and was an excellent shooter. Stockton was more durable and was the point guard on two teams that made it to the NBA Finals. Maybe someone could say that for the past 2-3 years Nash has come close to the level that Stockton maintained for about 10 years but I don't understand how it can be said that Nash is clearly, definitively better than Stockton.


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