San Antonio Versus Phoenix PreviewWestern Conference Second Round
#2 Phoenix (61-21) vs. #3 San Antonio (58-24)
Season series: San Antonio, 2-1
Phoenix can win if…Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa are able to penetrate into the paint, break down the Spurs defense and create scoring opportunities for themselves and their teammates.
San Antonio will win because…the Spurs are able to both stifle the Suns' running game and also to run right back at Phoenix with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The Spurs eschew many offensive rebound opportunities in order to get back on defense and force teams to shoot contested shots. They are very dedicated to this philosophy and are athletic enough to be able to do this against the Suns; most teams lack either the mindset or the personnel to consistently do this. The Suns repeatedly burned the Lakers with wide open three pointers in transition and lobs for uncontested dunks; the Spurs will eliminate most of those easy scores and force Phoenix to score in a half court set.
Other things to consider: Many people think that Phoenix is poised to win the title this year because Amare Stoudemire is back in the mix. Yes, Stoudemire did have a huge series against San Antonio two years ago--but Tim Duncan's numbers were also very good and the Spurs won easily en route to their third championship. It probably will not be quite so easy this time but the Spurs will get one of the first two games in Phoenix and eventually win the series in six games.
posted by David Friedman @ 5:18 AM