Suns Sweep Spurs
No one including myself, believed the Suns were capable of this performance. Yes, they were a playoff team, but Phoenix has had their share of disappointments over the years. In fact when they failed to trade Amare Stoudemire at the trade deadline, I thought they made a big mistake, because they weren’t built to win this year. I thought the Suns should make the best deal possible and rebuild to hopefully compete in the future. I didn’t think an Amare led front court could get past the other bigs in the Western Conference. Well the future could be now as the Suns, not only did they finish the season as a three seed, but they have taken down Portland and San Antonio in successive series without too much trouble. By sweeping the Spurs, the Suns really made a statement that they aren’t a fluke.
San Antonio might have been a 7th seed, but they were built to compete in the playoffs. They were overly cautious this season, resting Duncan for entire games to keep him healthy and fresh for the playoffs. They were a very veteran team, with good solid depth. And after the Spurs took down the Mavericks in the first round, it looked as though their strategy of ceding wins in the regular season (and potentially home court advantage) might payoff. Unfortunately for them, the Suns were too much for them to handle, and San Antonio couldn’t slow down their fast paced offense. For what it was worth, their regular season strategy didn’t backfire because the Suns never even got the benefit of home court advantage in the series with the sweep. What did backfire was the Spurs ability to stop the Suns from running, which they couldn’t do. The Spurs had knocked the Suns out of the playoffs 4 times in the past 7 years, but this year it was Phoenix’s turn to advance.
Phoenix is playing their best basketball in years. Playing as a team, and even playing a little defense, the Suns are playing to win. Steve Nash, Amare, and Jason Richardson have been a very good scoring trio for the Suns in these playoffs, and they have been supplemented by the ageless Grant Hill and a strong bench. Their bench could even get better when Robin Lopez returns (possibly by the start of the series with the Lakers). Lopez has missed the entire playoffs so far, but he is a solid option off the bench, who is known for his interior defense and rebounding. Two things that will be needed for the Suns to get past the Lakers.
Normally I wouldn’t have given Phoenix a chance against L.A. (and it could still play out that way). But I like how they are playing right now, and I think if Lopez comes back healthy, he could have a big impact on this series. He might never lead them in scoring, but his interior presence (just the extra fouls will be key) on defense should slow down the Lakers big men. Nash and company seem hungry to win, and I’m not going to bet against the Suns again.