NBA Playoff Update

Steve O Speak

By Fanspeak Contributing Writer Geoff Nelowet:

Phoenix Suns win 118-109 at home to close within a game of the LA Lakers:

The Phoenix Suns made this series interesting by knocking of the Lakers last night. Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 42 points, while Steve Nash continued his brilliant play with 17 points and 15 assists. Kobe Bryant played his best game of the playoffs with 36 points 11 assists and 9 rebounds in a losing effort.

It looks like Phoenix has to play its absolute best to take down the Lakers. Stoudemire was lights out tonight, and it was barely enough for the Suns to earn a win. At the same time, though, Kobe was also playing a huge game. I would be surprised to see the Suns win again at home – the Lakers simply outmatch the Suns, and it shows even when the Lakers lose. It is always difficult to tell with Suns, though, as they are a streaky team.

Game four comes down to whether the Suns can execute their offense or not – and if they can start knocking down their three’s. That seems like a bright spot for the Suns – they won without shooting a great percentage from three-point land (25%). The Lakers are a bit more predictable: they will play tough defense and Kobe and Pau Gasol will have strong games. Ultimately it comes down to whether the Suns can work within their own game plan or they to play into the Lakers’ style.

It would be great to see the Suns find a way to win this series for an unthinkable Phoenix-Boston match-up in the finals. That would have to be the most improbable NBA Finals series in years.

Boston Celtics are up 3-0 on the reeling Orlando Magic:

This has been an absolute shock of a series. For starters, it is unbelievable that the Celtics made it this far. They looked like a team ready to keel over before the playoffs, and here they are – up 3-0 on the Magic after dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the prior series.

You can attribute Boston’s post-season success to two causes: great team defense and Rajon Rondo.

Boston has now held their opponents under 100 point for the last six playoff games, and they’ve held their opponents under 100 point in 11 of 14 games. Those three games in which their opponent scored 100-plus points resulted in the Celtics’ only three losses of the post season. The 2010 Boston Celtics resoundingly support the fact that team defense trumps superstars, as the Celtics are on the verge of knocking off teams led by Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Dwight Howard.

Rajon Rondo has been unstoppable for the Celtics – just as he was last year in the playoffs. Rondo is averaging 17 points, nearly 11 assists and 6 rebounds a night in the playoffs, and he is quickly becoming one of the best point guards in the league. Whoever the Celtics face (assuming they defeat Orlando) in the NBA Finals will have their hands full.

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