Sunday , May , 06 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Suns host Spurs in Game 1 of West semis

(Sports Network) – The Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs play for a spot in
the Western Conference finals, as they battle in Game 1 of a best-of-seven
playoff series today at US Airways Center.

Phoenix, which won its third straight Pacific Division title during the
regular season and is the second seed in the West playoffs, owns the home-
court advantage over the third-seeded Spurs.

Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Tuesday at US Airways Center.

There is a lot of playoff history between the teams, as this is the eighth
time that the clubs have met in the postseason. The Suns defeated San Antonio
in the first round in 1992 and 2000 and in the semis in 1993. The Spurs beat
Phoenix in the opening round in 1996, 1998 and 2003 and also in the 2005
Western Conference finals.

The Suns have been eliminated in the Western Conference finals two consecutive
years. Phoenix lost in five games to the Spurs in 2005, and fell in six last
year to the Dallas Mavericks.

In round one, the Suns made it two straight years that they have eliminated
Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. All-Star Amare Stoudemire, who did not
participate in last year’s playoffs because of a knee injury, averaged team-
highs in points (24.2 ppg) and rebounds (13.6 rpg) as Phoenix earned a 4-1
series victory over the seventh-seeded Lakers.

Last season, the Lakers blew a 3-1 lead in the first round against Phoenix.
Los Angeles fell in seven contests and was eliminated in the opening round for
the first time since 1996.

Reigning MVP Steve Nash posted 16.0 points and a team-best 14.0 assists
against the Lakers, while Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa collected 21.2
points per game. All-Star Shawn Marion ended the first-round series with
averages of 18.4 points and 10.2 rebounds for the Suns, who are in the
postseason for a third straight year.

Phoenix head coach Mike D’Antoni, who made his All-Star coaching debut this
year and was the 2004-05 NBA Coach of the Year, continues to allow his club to
do what it does best, score. The Suns simply outscored their opponents with
their powerful offense. Against San Antonio, D’Antoni will also try to get his
club to play some defense.

San Antonio ousted No. 6 Denver in five games. After dropping Game 1 at home,
the Spurs took control of the series by winning four in a row, including Games
3 and 4 at the Pepsi Center.

All-Stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker continue to come up big for the Spurs.
Duncan led the team in scoring (20.2 ppg) and rebounding (10.2 rpg), while
Parker averaged 18.2 points and a team-best 6.8 assists versus the Nuggets.

Veteran forward Robert Horry, who has six championship rings, once again
showed that the playoffs are his time of year, as he made big plays and
knocked down clutch shots in round one. Horry averaged 7.8 points and 3.6
boards in about 21 minutes per contest.

Michael Finley and Manu Ginobili also had solid series for the Spurs. who have
at least made it to the Western Conference semifinals for a seventh straight

The Spurs are appearing in the postseason for the 10th straight year and have
won three of the last eight NBA championships. Last season, San Antonio was
eliminated in the conference semis by the Dallas Mavericks in seven games.

During the regular season, the Spurs won two of three meetings with the Suns.
San Antonio won a pair at the AT&T Center, while Phoenix defeated the Spurs,
103-87, on February 1st at US Airways Center.