Sunday, June 05, 2005

Playoffs: The Suns Series

Soon after the Sonics series was over, most of the Spurs fans (me included) were hoping that mavs-Suns series would go into 7 games - In the hindsight though, Suns finishing it in 6 was kind of blessing in disguise for Spurs.

I was hoping Spurs could play competitive games out there in Phoenix and possibly win a game. But Pop has too many weapons these days and he utilizes them to perfection. Commonsense would tell us that scores above 105 would be cakewalk for Suns. Pop allowed the team to run to Suns' pace and it worked out great. Suns' defense helped too. They just can't seem to shutdown the opponents for a decent 3-4 minutes. I felt Spurs' running straight into Suns' trap by not even playing defense in all quarters, but I guess at that pace you just can't. The real difference was Spurs imposed what they wanted to do in 4th quarters of those games and executed the game plan to perfection.

I enjoyed game 3 better just for the fact that Spurs had a great first half, which helped watch the rest of the game in a relaxed mood ;-) Game 4 could possibly the worst-ever playoff game for Timmy (or at least close to the one he had in 2001 WCF against the Lakers) - so nothing much to cry about. You expect a great team like the Suns to show up and execute better. Tony having a sub-par game didn't help either. At this point I have to say, I was a little bit nervous going into Pheonix, but not too overly worried.

Game 5 was as classic as you can get. Great first half in which the teams evenly matched. And common-sense would tell Timmy would come back with a vengeance. Early in the third quarter Spurs doing what they often do - shutting down with great D and allowing Tony to run some plays. I thought Tony did a great job despite all the hype about Tony's problems with bigger guards. I can't buy the argument that Tony struggles against a set of poing guards in the league. What they don't see is his unique ability to slash to the basket against almost anyone - not a skill most of PGs possess. But again, there is so much expectation from Tony, the guy gets unecessary bashing all the time.

Amare was absolutely a beast. Not to take away anything from him, I wonder Spurs kind of went with this plan of not concentrating too much on him. In previous years, one couldn't see Pop coming out with a definite plan of pinning one of Shaq or Kobe for a whole series. Yeah, the guy scored a load of points and is one of the best PFs out there, but installing him at the top of the best-ever list is too much of a strech.

As Pop kept on saying, Nash is what all the Suns are. They go the way he goes, period. This guy is amazing and definitely the right choice for MVP this season. I mean, I don't think anybody is going to hate this guy even for basketball reasons (yeah, Mavs Fans including ;-) ). He is all class and I am sure his team is for real for years to come. Loser Mavs :-)

Except some mud-slinging by Marion after game 4 (saying Spurs are tired, blah..), the series was all about high-quality fun basketball. The respect teams showed for each other was a sign that good guys can still survive in the NBA.

One point about Coach Mike D'antoni - He is all class and gave some of the best quotes in the interviews. He really enjoys post-game interviews - doesn't he? (After all, why wouldn't you if your teams 105+ points every time they hit the court). But he just cried a bit too much about the absense of Joe Johnson. It looked like he was it as an excuse. Yeah JJ was a big-piece in their overall scheme, but one got to live with it (Spurs are playing without Rasho and Devin too - esp. Devin could have given us some real minutes).

When the series began, I was thinking Suns could pose the biggest challenge yet. And sure they did. The series was not as easy as the 4-1 win suggests.

It's great Spurs are getting some R&R and time to cool-off from the high-octane offense that was holding the NBA a hostage for more than a week ;-)

Go Spurs Go!!!


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