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Breaking down the breakdowns of Game 1

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There were a whopping SEVEN key end of game sequences in the instant classic that was Game 1...

Amare_cry_medium
Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic

ShowHype: hype it up!

1) End of Regulation. Suns up by 3 with 20 seconds and the Spurs have the ball.

 

San Antonio ran Finely off two screens to get Finely an open look from the trailing Barbosa. Finely hits the three and ties the game with 15 seconds left. On both screens Barbosa was bumped - first by Parker on the baseline and next by Oberto on the sideline. These types of moving screens are almost never called...unless they are.

 

Analysis: A lot has been said about Hill not being on the floor at this point. Clearly, he would have been had he been fully healthy. I haven’t found much on this other then watching him struggle during the game and this locker room observation from Dan Bickley in the AZ Republic:

 

And if you look in the corner, you'll see Grant Hill grimacing as he puts on his socks, not a good sign that his groin injury has healed.

and then there's more on the groin:

D'Antoni talked about Grant Hill needing to be more honest with him about his health. He thought his sore groin was feeling better than he was. The lingering strain limited Hill's impact and had D'Antoni sitting him for all but 34 seconds of overtime. 

You can argue that Giricek might have been a better option then Barbosa and his size and defensive aggression would have helped stay closer to Finely but clearly this one belongs on Amare’s shoulders. Watch Amare in the clip. He is lost and doesn’t switch like he was supposed to.

When Finley came off the second pick by Fabricio Oberto to get to the 3-point line, the Suns' plan was to swtich on the perimeter, but Stoudemire sat back, and Finley sent the game to overtime.When Finley came off the second pick by Fabricio Oberto to get to the 3-point line, the Suns' plan was to swtich on the perimeter, but Stoudemire sat back, and Finley sent the game to overtime.

 

Credit Finely for hitting the shot and Popovich for running the play that early in the clock to prevent the Suns from fouling.

 

2) End of Regulation. Game tied. Suns have the ball with 15 seconds.

 

The Suns run a pick and roll with Nash and Diaw. They move Amare to the corner probably to pull Duncan away from the rim and go with Diaw trying to expose Oberto.

 

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.

 

Analysis: I have to think at this point in the game when you only need one bucket that there were better options. Giving the ball to Amare in isolation and letting him create or running Nash off some screens to get an open look come to mind. I don’t like this call at all.

 

3) 14 Seconds Left in 1st OT. Suns are up by three with the ball.

 

The Spurs trap Nash at the top of the arc and Nash finds Amare wide open at the free throw line. Amare passes up an open jump shot and charges into Kurt Thomas. Here’s what Amare said about the play:

 

"Screen and roll," Stoudemire said of the play. "As soon as I caught the ball, I went to attack and didn't see Kurt at all. By the time I saw him, he was already on the ground. I think it was a great call by the official. It happens like that sometimes.

Analysis: It was a great look for the Suns and a great pass by Nash out of the trap. It was also a fantastic defensive move by Kurt to draw the foul. If KT is a split second slower Amare gets fouled or finishes or both.

 

 

4) End of 1st OT. Suns up by 3. Spurs have the ball with about 10 seconds left.

 

The Spurs run a high screen with Ginobili and Duncan probably hDuncan_for_3_mediumoping to free Manu for the three. Shaq this time does switch and he and Nash chase Ginobili in the lane leaving Duncan open. 

 

Analysis: On this play there was time for Nash to foul Manu right after the inbound pass or Nash could have stayed on Duncan and let Ginobili get to the rim for two.

 

Clearly the Suns decided that they didn’t want to have to try and win at the free throw line with 10 seconds left so they left a guy who hadn’t taken a 3 point shot all year to play solid defense. I have less of a problem with this decision although in hind sight, clearly they would have been better off letting Ginobili score with only a few seconds left on the clock.

Here's what the Coach had to say on the subject:

"It's tough. Some players might be able to do it. Some teams might be able to do it. There are some situations that are easier. If there is four or three seconds left and they're taking in an inbounds, you foul immediately. OK, I can understand that. But when they've got the ball with 12 seconds, what do you foul right then? Then, they're going to foul you and it becomes free throw shooting and you also open yourself up to losing the game. It's just not in our nature."

 

5) End of 1st OT. Game Timed. Suns have the ball with about 3 seconds left.

 

The Suns choose to use Nash as a decoy and try and exploit Diaw on Udoka in the post. Ginobili leaves the inbound man and comes to double on Diaw and trips him as his spins to take the shot. Clearly it was a foul and clearly these kinds of fouls are never called in situations like this.

 

Analysis: Without Amare on the floor and with Hill’s groin not well enough to trust with a shot the options were to get Steve the ball going towards the rim or the play they ran for Diaw. Remember that Diaw hit this same shot against Dallas a few years back and had been having a great game. I am not thrilled with the decision but don’t feel it was horrible either.

 

Give Manu credit for quickly leaving Hill and doubling the ball and causing Diaw to take an even tougher falling down shot (and for getting away with the trip).   

 

 

6) End of 2nd OT. Suns down by three with 20 seconds and the ball

 

This time the Suns run a play to free Nash and he hits it. The ball went into Diaw and Nash runs towards Diaw and gets the hand off pass and goes to the corner and knocks it down. Udoka and Bowen get tangled a bit and Udoka is slow to recover and switch over on Nash as Bowen switches on to Bell after the inbound pass. 

 

Analysis: Great play. The ball went into Diaw and he likely had the option of either Nash or Bell depending on who got open. Diaw makes the right pass and Nash knocks it down.

 

7) End of 2nd OT. Game tied. Spurs have the ball with 15 seconds.

 

Ginobili dribbles up the floor and isolates on Bell at the top of the Manu_shot_mediumarc. Bells fails to force Manu to drive to his right towards help and instead he’s able to get into the lane and hit the tough layup.

 

Analysis: I can’t top the breakdown of Bell’s defense from X’s and O’s .

The Spurs were smart not to call a time out and so the Suns didn’t have time to set up their defense and perhaps put Shaq in the game. Someone mentioned to me that Hill should have been on Manu at this point but:

 

a) there wasn’t time to set that up since the Spurs took the ball in quickly and Hill’s man went to the corner preventing the defensive switch

b) Hill’s groin left him as the lesser option at that point anyway

c) Bell has always guarded Manu well - you don't go away from at this point even if you have the option (which the Suns didn't)

 

 

Of all these key plays only one went the Suns way. Obviously, there were other big plays like Shaq's block on Manu resulting in a fast break layup by Barbosa or Nash's continued brilliance despite being ill. But these were the ones that will be remembered and six of seven went the Spurs way.  

 

Credit them for stepping up and credit the Suns for making them make six great plays to win a playoff game at home.