"Really, we just want to come out and play well in Game 3. We’ll worry about the rest of it after that. We want to come out and have another good performance, great attitude, body language, be aggressive and see what happens."
The game is played because everything seems to make sense on paper. That is, there is always a way to remedy the previous mistakes that culminate to create total failure. But paper doesn't take into consideration the will, drive, and determination of the men on the court.
For coaches and us blogger types, analysis is necessary as is strategy, but the problem with both is that they are only a percentage of the total equation. The rest combines the human factor, which can be predictably flawed or unpredictably great. Or both, neither, or some degree of everything combined. A game takes two teams to play and time outs are allowed which allow for adjustments.
My point?-no amount of planning and strategy automatically yields success.
On Tuesday we saw the awakened Phoenix Suns. They had lost home court advantage in Game 1 and had no choice but to come out and play the game of basketball the way they have been assembled to. They did that. And rather easily. There's a pretty simple formula for Suns success and we all know what it is.
The only issues the Suns have to deal with in order to conjure up a victorious performance is their energy, desire, and focus.
My God how generic. How typical. How cliche... Vague, generic, monotonous, albeit true. And this is the time of year for cliches.
There's no disrespect to Portland, they are a quality NBA team, and they are good enough to win tonight or any other night against the Suns- if the Suns let them. The difference in the Suns performance from game 1 to 2 has a little bit to do with adjustments (Hill on Miller) but much more to do with confidence (Amare). We all saw it on the floor-it's the swagger, the cockiness, the arrogance that comes from a veteran laden team full of players who have tasted victory in the NBA postseason. Maybe not Championship victory, but victory nonetheless.
Amare decided he'd go at and over Camby instead of sitting outside in order to avoid him. Hill was switched to Miller, which slowed the Blazers best offensive weapon, and in doing so, crippled their offensive attack. In addition, Miller was run through countless screens on the defensive end, which will no doubt be the plan once again tonight.
The Bedge has a very nice and specific preview along with keys to success tonight versus the Suns. It is very detailed, full of specific suggestions and predictions on how to remedy the Game 2 issues and defeat the Suns. But the one thing I noticed is that it is very long. My conclusion: A LOT has to go right for the Blazers to win while the Suns are executing their game, especially if Nicolas Batum is out for this one.
The Suns executed nearly flawlessly on Tuesday night. There was very little Portland could do stop them. Herein lies the crux of my point: Confidence and mind set:
- Marcus Camby cannot stop Amare Stoudemire when Amare is bent on posterizing in the name of bully ball. No one can.
- Grant Hill CAN shut down Andre Miller because Grant Hill defies age, time, and logic, and space. He's also a quality defender with length, quickness, and a veteran's savvy.
- NO ONE shuts down Steve Nash. Period
- Jason Richardson is the only one who shuts down Jason Richardson. It's critical for a shooter to gain confidence, and the only way that happens is, well, watching the orange glide through the net. We saw Rich's outside stroke a couple nights ago after he drained a few from long distance. That was one confident man.
- The Suns bench is vastly superior to PTL's. While Portland goes 8 deep, the Suns can go 10. Of course, depth doesn't automatically equate to success. The Suns second unit can defend and score. They are an experienced, driven, cohesive unit. The Blazers? Well, not so much. Yeah Bayless can drain some shots, yeah Howard, blah, blah, blah, yeah Webster, but the rest, Pendegraph, Cunningham, etc. all are young and not ready for prime time.
Again, this is why we play the game. PTL's fans in attendance will be jacked up-the change in venue and energy from the sun-starved Portlanders will probably be good for a few runs in the Blazer's favor. Maybe Rudy Fernandez will show up, and perhaps LMA will prove beastly tonight. Oh and maybe Jerryd Bayless won't foul out in 22 minutes of play. But if the Suns can come out running and gunning, tune out the noise, and make some early shots, look for a game 2-esque performance. It will no doubt be more difficult than it sounds. If I'm reading Steve Nash's words right, it's all about showing up tonight, challenging Portland, implanting doubt in their mind that they can win this series-break their will.
Even if tonight results in a well played loss, it can still be considered a victory. Remember, this isn't single elimination people. Taking 1 of 2 from the Blazers in Portland, and then returning back to Phoenix to take care of business suits me fine.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 04/22/10 2:08 PM MST ]
Great preview from Wil. Just one quick thought. Sorry, it is an X's and O's thing...
Andre Miller did a terrible job against Grant's full court pressure. They need to use a screener or just have Miller work a bit harder to get the ball and get it up court. He just folded and let Rudy advance up court. Do you think Nash would do that? No.
I expect 'Dre won't this game either so look for the Blazers to do a much better job handling that pressure if the Suns even try it again.
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