Game Five: ‘Five Games’
No one believed me, not even the Spurs fans. They all said I was crazy.
What are they to say now?
Understand that in the business of predicting sports accurate predictions are more often a thing of luck than skill. I usually hate saying I told you so, especially considering that if Tim Duncan doesn’t make his first three pointer of the season in game one, this all could have turned out different. I hate to act like I did more than take an educated guess at a number and touch a keyboard, but it simply wasn’t that simple.
It’s important to understand why Phoenix lost. It’s important to understand that the Suns lost this series as much as the Spurs won it. It’s important to understand why I knew this would go five games, no more.
Phoenix had 13 turnovers in game five. But what cost them was a couple of costly errors in the closing moments. When it counted the most a roster manufactured to topple the defending champs failed to execute with the kind of cohesiveness that manufactured the champs. When Boris Diaw blindly passed out of a double team on the post, tossing the ball out of bounds late in the fourth, the conceptual failure the Phoenix Suns set in.
I said at the beginning of the series the Suns couldn’t win because of the personnel moves they had made. Because Shaq would foul Duncan more than he would stop him. Because Grant Hill couldn’t check Parker like Marion could. Because Kurt Thomas was wearing the other uni now. I said it was match-up problems, and it was. But it was something else, too.
Kenny Smith preached in corrected in TNT’s post game wrap. The Suns made the personnel moves they thought were needed to take down the Spurs. What they failed to realize was that so much of what makes San Antonio good is that their core pieces have been together for so long.
Phoenix was wrong for making the moves they made. The moves they made were wrong. That isn’t an indictment against Amare Stoudemire’s heart or Steve Nash’s skill, hardly. It’s an unmistakable sign that that throughout upper management and coaching, Phoenix’s direction has been misaligned and misinformed.
I’m afraid the window for Phoenix is officially closed. The time for the Suns as title contenders is over. D’Antoni is out as head coach. And what will likely occur is a slow, uncooperative rebuilding process that will take place with the franchise and its fans in severe denial.
I’m not saying this as some Spurs fan trying to rub in a victory. I’m saying this as a hoops fans disappointed that a talent as young and tremendous as Amare Stoudemire will likely have to sit through a rebuilding process. I’m just as disappointed that Steve Nash, coming into the latter stage of his career, is stuck in this mess. I’m pissed that Shaq will likely end his career in this mess.
It shouldn’t have happened this way. But I knew it would.
As for the Spurs they go on with business as usual. They held to Phoenix to under 90 points in game five and near forty percent shooting from the floor. Duncan came correct with 29 and 17. Parker continued his dominance unimpeded with 31 and 8. Gregg Popovich continues to hold the record for the best winning percentage in potential close out games of any coach in NBA history.
The Spurs march on as casually as ever, damn near stoic. What they move on to is the team with the best record in the conference, the team with the best point guard in the solar system.
What do I say to that?
Make it six games this time.