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Game Day Thread: Suns v. Spurs

Phoenix Suns

San Antonio Spurs
40-22 43-18
12:30 PM Mountain / 3:30 PM Eastern
Probable starters:
Steve Nash PG Tony Parker
Raja Bell SG Manu Ginobili
Grant Hill SF Bruce Bowen
Amare Stoudemire PF Kurt Thomas
Shaquille O'Neal C Tim Duncan

The Spurs can call Timmy a PF if they want and that helps him get voted into the All-Star game but clearly he's the Center on that team and will match up w/ Shaq and Amare with KT.

Dead Horses

All the talk about the Los Suns Nuevo and all the chatter about defense, coaching, Shaq and our playoff chances has me feeling that topic is done and beat to glue. This game thread is going to focus on the game. Suns v Spurs. Sunday on National TV. There's plenty to discuss.

Season Series Tied 1-1

These two teams have hooked up twice this year and the Suns won a close one in SA on December 17th where Grant Hill was awesome on both ends of the floor and even without Parker it was a solid win.

The next game again without Parker was in Phoenix on January 31st. This was a game the Suns had in the bag and let slip away. The D was solid but for whatever reason they couldn't find the rim with both hands. Amare missed some clutch FT's and that was that. Oh, and Pokovich sat Horry the entire game out of fear of the riot that his appearance might spark. Somehow I expect that this time we might see him although I am not sure that Suns fans are going to care as much this time around. The collective attention of Suns planet has been focused elsewhere of late.

Key Matchups

Shaq v Timmy
I am actually pretty excited to see how Shaq does on Timmy. I really have no idea how their past meetings have gone and so my expectations are all over the map. I could see Shaq bodying up and using his size to push Duncan out of the block and make him take contested turn around jumpers (which he makes too often anyway) or I could see Timmy facing him up and driving at Shaq and drawing fouls. On the other end, I would love to see the Suns go into Shaq early as they have done the past few games and see if he can't draw some early fouls and make those eyes bug right out. It should be fun.

Amare and KT
As good a defender KT (allegedly) is, he usually gets torched by Amare. I am sure they will put Duncan on Amare at times also but with his outside game so potent now Amare should look to face up from 15ft and either drive or take the open J if they give it to him. Amare is on a tear and I think this match up is tailor-made for him. Amare on the other end can hide on D and occasionally help off Dirty and get some blocks coming from the weak side.

Nash on Bowen on Hill on Parker
This is where is gets confusing and where the Suns really need to take advantage. The Spurs love to put Bowen on Nash and the Suns will likely have Hill on Parker. On one end when Nash is on Bowen he can pretty much rest. With Bowen on Nash the Suns really need to take advantage of either Ginobili or Parker on Hill. Hill running the offense when Bowen is on Nash is really going to be the key to breaking the Spurs D.

With Mano starting the Spurs really lack any punch at all off the bench. Boris has been playing well and coming in and looking to score and LB needs to continue to knock down open looks and drive when he can. Udoka and Finley can get hot but Mighty Mouse doesn't really worry me. This should be a big advantage for the Suns and they need outscore the Spurs bench by at least 10.

srp's Factors for Achieving Most Glorious Victory

  • Get healthy on D - The Spurs are not a great offensive team and I think they lost a step when they let Beno Udrich go and we all know that Barry is home with his family right now. They really only have three great scorers and they don't run the kind of screens and cuts that Utah does so our individual D can carry us through.
  • Use the clock - I love watching the Spurs play defense. Its text book. The key is how fast they rotate and just like when you play a fast pursuit defense in football you have to use that against them. The Suns should run the break when they can but in the half court sets they really need to milk the clock and make the Spurs work for 20 seconds by passing the ball a lot. In that last game against them, the Suns did a lot of standing around and the ball didn't move. That just makes it too easy for the Spurs. You have to make them work.

    Throw the ball into the post and when they double down swing it around a few times and go back into the post again. The Suns have too many weapons on the floor at the same time and can get an open look if they are patient. Gone are the days when the Suns had to score in 7 seconds or less to win. All year has been building towards these types of slow down half-court execution offensive games. Hill and Diaw taking pressure off Nash to create everything will help a lot too.

  • WAKE UP - Clearly this early Sunday game thing hasn't gone well for us. I don't know what the answer is but they need to drink their coffee and eat their Wheaties and show up ready to play. Its not as if the other team gets to start 3 hrs later.
Prediction Time

I really like our chances in this one. Los Suns Nuevo have been improving each game and played well enough to win both in Denver and against Utah. Denver was super motivated and has a lot of perimeter weapons. Utah is a touch matchup for us w. Boozer inside and Okur outside and D-Will playing lights out along with a very solid bench that can put up points.

Parker is back but his average is down to 14PPG in the 9 games since his return from foot injury. Ginobili is on fire but I think Bell will be up to the challenge (hope he brings a cup) and Duncan is Duncan. This isn't a deep team and they don't have near the fire power of the other teams that we have played recently. Our offense is suited well to attack them and I think ironically of all the top Western teams this is the matchup that I like most for us now.

Suns win 109 - 101

Update [2008-3-9 11:10:40 by srp]:

Check out this fresh insightful look at the rosters of the Suns and Spurs from ZonaFlash

I don't think TexSun is available for live blogging and I doubt I will be watching the game "live". For those that can and do, have it and thanks.

And for those interested, here's the link to the awesome pre-game analysis over at sister SN site Pounding the Rock.

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