Game 2 Preview for the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Sterns: Respecting the Man You Must Kill
Coach D’Antoni has some words of wisdom for all of the fans (including me) telling he should have ordered a foul on Manu Ginobili before allowing Manu to pass to Tim Duncan for a wide-open three: “I know there will be fans out there groaning. Let them go to the Y and work on it.”
Enough said, I suppose.
Most of the writers I’ve seen are essentially (without outright saying this) calling this a moral victory for the Suns. In San Antonio, at least one writer feels that the Spurs dodged a bullet in Game 1 (or at least that was his spin in that one article). I do not buy it. The Suns were here last year, too. However, the mental mistakes killed the Suns. I will not re-hash those as they’re all over the internet. As I grow older, I am more comforted by the saying that “Old age and treachery will always defeat youth and skill.” Setting aside chronological age (the Sp*rs are only slightly older), the Sp*rs have the “age” in regard to playoff basketball. The Suns are the younger, skilled contenders that have to deal with veteran savvy.
Someday the Sp*rs will fall – and maybe in this series to these Suns – but it’s going to take maturity and veteran savvy from the Suns’ youngest player, Amaré Stoudemire. Whether it’s not switching a screen to contest Finley’s shot or pulling up for a ten-foot jumper or not making two dumb reach fouls – he is the key. He needs to stay on the court and he needs to play smarter defense. He is getting better, but he still needs to give more. The Valley of the Suns just hopes that his shoulders are as broad as he says they are.
On the officiating: I’m a bit upset that the same crew will not stay. It was a relatively well-officiated games and the Suns got as many favorable calls as did the Sp*rs. Pop played a deeper bench, so the fouls were spread out a bit more evenly amongst his players (as opposed to the Suns’ three big men getting most of the Suns’ fouls). On the flopping, only one play really stood out and that was Fabio’s flop in the first. Shaq barely touched him. The other two charges called on him were not flops – they were exaggerations to make sure the call was made. I’m not as against exaggerations as I am out-and-out flops. With all the officiating controversy over the last year or so (and most of it focused on these two teams), why wouldn’t the league want its best in this series (the best series going right now)?
The series is even on the officiating, even on the drama, even on the desire of each team. “It felt like a Finals game,” said Duncan, the Spurs’ All-Star forward. “But it’s only the first game of the first series.” What is going to break?
The Suns will keep coming. They will not stop. San Antonio will need to pull all the tricks out of Pop’s bag – and time them well (see Hack, Shaq and Skinner) – to get past this one.
I hate to have to admit this, but I love the sly old guy. I love seeing Han Solo or Indiana Jones pull one out of his derriere (e.g., like killing Boba Fett with a broomstick) to get through just once again. Because of that sort of romanticism, I can appreciate the way the Sp*rs play (well, within the rules, Cheap Shot Bob).
Because I’m getting older and like the swash-buckling, I would have loved Timmeh’s 3-ball if (please forgive me, Lord, for even thinking this) I were a Sp*rs fan.
As a Suns fan, the frustration is best caught and encapsulated with Kurt Thomas taking that final charge against Amaré Stoudemire.
Could you ask for more in Round 1?
Four games to go, Jordan.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kris247/]