Monday, May 14, 2007

Blood and Guts

My very good friend, Ric has been chastising me for not writing enough of late. I try to tell him that it's hard coming up with something good to write about everyday. I do have other contributors to this blog, but mainly it's just me. I'm really in the "nothing interesting happened this weekend" mood, in order not to get yelled at from Boston, I'm going to make a few comments about the NBA playoffs. Here goes nothing.

The NBA championship is being contested this week between the Suns and the Spurs. I'm not just saying that because I picked the Spurs to win the title before the season started. I think that most observers believe that the best two teams left in the playoffs are in this series. Last year there was a feeling among observers that the Mavericks and the Spurs were the two best teams left and the winner of that series would be the de facto champion. The Heat and Dwayne Wade came along and ruined that prediction, but you have to remember how close the Mavericks were to taking a 3-0 lead against the Heat last year. It took a monumental collapse, with a big heaping of Dwayne Wade to turn that series around. I don't anticipate any team from the east being able to repeat that performance.

The Suns and the Spurs seem to be the perfect storm. The best defensive team in the league going up against the best offensive team in the league. The Spurs have two all-defensive team regulars in their starting lineup and the Suns have two first team all-stars in theirs. The Suns like to run and the Spurs like to walk. The feeling going into the series was that which ever team was able to dictate pace would be the winner. So far the Suns have dictated the pace, but the Spurs have been beating them at their own game. All the games have ended up in triple digits for both teams but the Spurs now hold a two games to one lead. The Spurs are better at running than most would give them credit for and Tim Duncan is still one of the best, if not the best big man in the game. Duncan can't play at the high level he used for an entire season, but he can certainly turn it on for the playoffs. He's basically reached the age where he has to pick his times for maximum effort.

The Suns seemingly do not have an answer for the Spurs. I'm sure going in to the series they felt that if they could get the games into triple digits that they would win. They are playing the style of basketball that made the most entertaining team in the NBA. The Spurs are just out gunning them at this point. Down the stretch, the Spurs have been able to make more plays than the Suns. It certainly didn't help that Steve Nash had to sit out most of the end of game one. The Suns can't change the way they play, so their key to victory is better execution. The Spurs aren't going to wilt down the stretch of games and make stupid mistakes to beat themselves. The Suns have to use the game 2 model for the rest of the series. They need to build a lead through the first three quarters and not allow the game to come down to the final moments.

The Suns do have home court advantage in the series, so game 7 would be played in Phoenix. However in order for that to happen, they have to steal at least one game in San Antonio. My prediction is the Spurs in six games, but if the Suns do manage to force a game 7, I think that in a month we will be witnessing a NBA championship parade in the valley of the sun.

I hope you're happy, Ric.

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