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Post Game Thread: Spurs take Game 1

Being a fan of professional sports is not for the faint of heart. If you get too emotional invested in your team then a loss like we saw today can leave you feeling like the dog is in need of the Michael Vick treatment.


To combat this and avoid the Michael Vick sentence, I try and remember that professional sports at the end of the day is entertainment.


Today, we were entertained despite the result. This was a classic playoff battle and kind of makes you wonder why we can’t figure out a way to make all 82 games this meaningful. This was a game that will be on ESPN Classic very soon.


That little bit of mental gymnastics should keep the dog safe for at least a few more days.

From the Dark Side


There are many Suns fans who are going to blame the coaching, ref’s, flops or Amare for today’s loss.


Certainly, it seemed like the Spurs made the better second half adjustments and threw a few different looks at the Suns. And while overall the officiating was balanced, it’s hard not to be frustrated with some concerted flopping (by both teams) and the impact the whistle had on the game.


I don’t watch basketball to see how well one team works the ref’s or to have the outcome determined by what angle a ref had on a play. I am a HUGE fan of the grassroots movement to change the foul out rules.


But no whining here - the ref’s didn’t decide this game.


Not being able to keep Shaq, Amare and Diaw out of foul trouble

Letting Finely get open for a 3

Leaving Duncan WIDE open for a 3

Not being able to get stops while up by 5

Not being able to get crucial buckets to ice a close game on the road


Those are the reasons the Suns lost a very winnable game.


At the same time, Finely and Duncan hitting those shots and the Spurs getting the defensive stops are the reason they won a game that they could not afford to lose.


Full credit given to those Spurs who sacrificed small virgin animals to whatever dark deities are worshiped in that locker room.


Today, their gods were more powerful then ours.



On the Bright Side


Despite the blown opportunity I don’t see how anything has changed in this series. The Suns took their best punch and still came awfully close to stealing one.


The effort was fantastic and at one point I swear that I was ready to wallpaper my house with Boris Diaw posters.  Vive la Diaw!


I am not in least bit concerned about the Suns having any kind of hangover from this lose. If anything, I would expect the opposite. This team will come out even stronger just like they did last year when they bounced back from a tough game 1 loss to deliver a beat down in game 2.


I would look for Grant to play better – he definitely didn’t look right based on how he was used and his minutes and would to see a little more Giricek. He does a great job breaking down the defense and makes timely entry passes to Shaq.


Key Adjustments


The most notably adjustment from Popovich was going away from Bowen on Nash and recognizing that he needed more offense. He played Finley, Manu and Parker together with his bigs. This forced the Suns to stay home a bit home and helped Parker and Ginobili get into the lane.


That, combined with the foul trouble on the Suns bigs gave the Spurs a bit more offensive punch then they had shown in the first half and in previous games. It was a good adjustment and in response Nash had a big second half and showed tremendous heart taking both charges and big shots.



End of Regulation Key Plays


I’ve seen a lot of questioning of the Suns playing Barbosa instead of Hill at the end of regulation with the Spurs down by three. But I don’t think Hill could have done anything different to contest that shot. Especially since I don’t think Hill was moving all that well.


Finely came from the weak side down the baseline and used a (moving) baseline screen by Parker to get separation. Barbosa was knocked off balance by Parkers hip check and as he chased Finely was again screened by Oberto who backed into him to create even more separation.


The defensive lapse by the Suns on that play goes to Amare. He was simply standing around watching and didn’t recognize Finley coming towards him and switch off Oberto to contest the shot. Perhaps he was surprised that they were setting up Finely for that shot so early in the clock.


The Suns then had the ball with about 15 seconds and the tie. They set Amare with Duncan guarding him out to the corner which must have been designed to get Timmy away from the hoop.


The play they ran was a pick and roll with Nash and Diaw trying to expose Oberto guarding Diaw and likely also trying to confuse the Spurs by not going to Amare. I guess if it had worked it would have been brilliant but since it didn’t...


Both Spurs guards collapsed leaving Barbora open at the top of the key and Bell open in the far corner. Nash went to Barbosa with the easier pass and Parker recovered quickly to chase him off an open jump shot and that left Barbosa driving into a clogged lane. He should have passed off to Amare who had moved to an open spot but that’s not LB’s game. He took and missed the shot.



The Highly Coveted BSoS Player of the Game


Duncan of course was huge and Finely was clutch. But for the Spurs the key player was Kurt Thomas. Yes Suns fans, not only did we pay the Sonics to “take him off our hands books” but the Sonics gifted him to the Spurs in return for Brent Barry and he showed up here and had a huge impact. Your worst fears realized.


Crazy Eye’s drew a few fouls including a great defensive play on Amare in OT and generally was an anchor in the middle next to Duncan.


Nod of the Head to Steve Nash


Steve’s shot wasn’t falling early but he sure was clutch at the end of the game. The Suns year long plan to run the offense in different ways so that Nash could be Nash in the clutch worked to perfection. He was fantastic and of course lost in all this was the amazing 3 he hit to tie the game at the end of the second OT.

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