San Antonio Spurs 102, Los Phoenix Suns 110: Reversing the curse by reversing roles

by

In Game 2 of the second round of the NBA Playoffs, Freaky Friday turned Wacky Wednesday and the star-crossed Phoenix Suns have suddenly become the soul swapping Los Phoenix Suns.

As stated in the series preview, the San Antonio Spurs and Los Phoenix Suns remain stylistically opposed but no longer occupy complete opposite ends of the spectrum.

Los Phoenix Suns’ strengths now overlap the Spurs on several key factors while still retaining their unique strengths, leaving Tim Duncan and company in an 0-2 hole following their 102-110 defeat.

During each of their championship runs the Spurs could be counted on to do several things. They were going to close out quarters, sharpen their defense in the waning moments of the game, clean the glass, and perhaps most sorely missed, their role players were going to stick big shots–usually three-pointers–in big moments.

Slowly the tides have turned, tonight it started with the bench and ended with Steve Nash. Yes, Los Phoenix Suns have a bench. It would take an advanced statistician like Wayne Winston to find a secret weapon out of an eight point, three rebound average, but Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley has been exactly that.

There was nothing especially skilled or impressive about the manner in which Dudley impacted the game, other than the production. Once a throw-in in the deal that brought Jason Richardson from the Charlotte Bobcats, Dudley brought Los Suns back through simple sheer force of will, hitting the offensive glass for his eight first half points–followed by a key three-pointer in the second half. It was the sort of  blue collar performance normally associated with the San Antonio Spurs.

Paired with Channing Frye, the two offered the familiar combination of undersized rebounding and front court floor spacer the San Antonio Spurs once enjoyed with Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair.

Disturbingly, what had been a season long advantage for the San Antonio Spurs, the bench production sans Tony Parker has evaporated quicker than water in the desert heat.

San Antonio’s newfound flaw was perhaps best summed up by TNT’s Marv Albert.

“You talk about trusting your bench,” Albert said. “Both coaches want to, only Alvin Gentry has had a reason to.”

DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner combined for four points (all Blair) and five rebounds. Game 2 offered a textbook example of the value a player with Matt Bonner’s skill set, unfortunately for the Spurs it was Channing Frye providing the lesson (15 points, 5-6 from the three-point line).

After the Spurs series opening loss to the Dallas Mavericks, head coach Gregg Popovich’s adjustments were just a matter of regressing to the mean. Through two games, Los Suns have done little outside of their capabilities to suggest that their lead is a fluke, nor was it simply a bad night for the San Antonio Spurs. Instead the games have been the product of recent trends.

Adjustments must be made. That might mean starting Tony Parker so that Manu Ginobili can revitalize Blair, Bonner and the rest of the San Antonio Spurs’ bench. It definitely means finding a way to rebound, after getting beat on the boards, losing that battle again after it helped them lose Game 1.

Finding anyone who can hit a three-pointer and provide spacing would help also.

But mostly it’s about getting back to the San Antonio Spurs blueprint. Los Phoenix Suns may have borrowed from it  a little while in Phoenix, and as the series changes venues to the AT&T Center it remains to be seen whether the Suns can emulate their long-time nemesis on the road.

  • Joe

    @ Jim Henderson, re: lots of caps regarding Blair

    Blair has 6 fouls in 20 minutes total across 2 games. You can’t give the Suns free points off of FT’s; it’s hard enough to contain their offense without giving them points while the clock is off. Staying on the floor is as much Blair’s responsibility as it is Pop’s.

  • Joe

    @Jesse Blanchard

    ” . . . and the Spurs could use someone, anyone, besides Ginobili himself to hit a three-pointer.”

    Timmy is now 2 of 2 from 3-pt range against these guys in playoff games; maybe he’s the stretch big we’ve been looking for. Just kidding.

    I absolutely agree — maybe one of our role-playing shooters picks up some momentum at home that they can carry through the rest of the series. I don’t know who that might come from, though. The lack of 3-point shooting is particularly troubling looking ahead to next year, too, given that Splitter is likely to eat up most, if not all, of our MLE. It will be tough to remedy the situation moving forward.

  • BALLHOG

    @ Jim Henderson

    ROCKING POST. Great points.

    Coaching is losing these games. Stomping on players confidence, keeping them unsure of thier roles, minutes, responsibilities is murder for any team. Its been done all year and it has finally hit home.

    A person has to be mighty anal to deplete his roster and actually go into the playoffs with Bonner, Bogans and Masonm as your bench help.

    Personally, I feel that the Spur Nation should be granted a public apology by Popovich for forcing us to watch these three absolute scrubs all year long. It has been criminal and we are WOUNDED!

    If we ignore the idiocy that occured in the Spur Nation this year, it will happen again next year.

    Pop should be on the HOTSEAT right now. He is being exposed before our eyes!

    And guess what, this aint Phil Jackson or Larry Brown outcoaching his azz…..Its pretty much a rookie coach….

  • Mark (Suns fan)

    spurs fans,

    after reading through about half of these comments i think ive realized something…

    maybe the suns are just better this year.. im not trying to start an argument or brag about it..i mean the spurs have put us out of the playoffs way too many times for any suns fans to be arrogant…but with every adjustment that you guys suggest on this thread…the suns seem to have the resources and skill to counter it…personally i thought pop looked like he knew it last night…to me it looked like he was thinking…”this team is just better than us”

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  • Trade TP

    @ Joe- Great job. So instead of intimidating players and letting them shoot uncontested layups (Bonner) Blair fouls and makes an aggressive attempt to get the ball.

    Youre right. We dont want that. We want to allow the suns to have layup drill because Boner and McDoosh are too slow to get into transition D.

    Or even better lets play McDoosh and BOner so that they get bent over on the pick and are too slow to recover and too dumb to say “switch” so the suns hit threes in our eyes all night.

    You dumbasses and Pop can take uncontested layups and threes. I prefer to take a chance that Blair blocks a shot.

    He had 4 steals in 9 minutes.

    You guys all over POPs nuts are dumber than shit.

  • Jim Henderson

    Mark (Suns fan)
    May 6th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    This Suns team is better than most of their past teams. I’ve been saying this all along, to anyone willing to listen. That said, this series is not over yet, but we are making some mistakes in strategy, in my opinion. I outlined them earlier on this thread. And I will reiterate them here. I challenge any of you to come up with valid points as to why this strategy would not have a good chance at succeeding.

    (1) SLOW the freaking game down! Use the ENTIRE shot clock, and then ATTACK the rim. Be very judicious, but CONFIDENT, in OUR three-point attempts.

    (2) Stress BALL CONTROL! Keep to single digits in turnovers. CRASH the OFFENSIVE & DEFENSIVE GLASS. Make every possession count with sharp execution, and increase OUR number of possessions by REBOUNDING the fricking ball on EVERY Suns shot attempt, not to mention, on many of our own!

    (3) Perimeter players must STAY ON the three-point shooters. Put RJ on Frye, and have Manu (or anybody in transition) stay glued to JRich around the arc. These are their key shooters. Take them out of the game by forcing them to dribble, when they’d prefer to shoot. Have 2-3 of our best athletes and defensive play-makers at a time (Hill, Manu, RJ, Parker, and Hairston? Where the hell is he?) play safety to better thwart the Suns transition opportunities. BUT DO NOT HAVE OUR TWO BEST REBOUNDERS WORRYING ABOUT THE SUNS TRANSITION GAME BY GETTING OUT OF POSITION. That’s a sure recipe for disaster.

    (4) KEEP MASON OUT OF THE GAME. We need CONFIDENCE, not brick-throwing “head cases”, or phantom defenders.

    (5) Bonner plays SIX minutes. If he doesn’t take at least TWO threes, and make ONE of them, he sits until the second half. Maybe we’ll have to give him one more 6 minute stint in the 2nd half. However, without production again, he’s out. THAT’S IT. It’s put up or shut up time. And his potential re-signing for next year should depend on him coming through. This kind of shooting from him, when it counts the most, just ain’t gonna to cut it!

    (6) Blair needs to be the SEVENTH MAN in this series! I don’t care that it’s a critical game three, and I know Amare’s a tough cover (when Collins is out) for the 21 year old, but Blair’s a man now. Give him the confidence & support, and see what he does. Just tell him, “DON’T FOUL” (stay on your feet – don’t even think about blocking his shot at the top), we’ll give you defensive help on his dribble penetrations (Amare’s a shitty passer off the dribble), and, WE NEED YOU in the game! He can handle the pressure if you show him confidence. Just look at how the 21 year old’s in OKC responded to the bright lights of the playoffs. Very well, than you very much, and Blair can make a difference also. And the fact is, we apparently NEED HIM IN THE PAINT to knock the Jared Dudley’s of the world on their ASS! (without fouling, of course!). If we lose the boards again in game three, we’re SCREWED!!! Blair is one of the top rebounders per minute in this league, as a rookie. WE NEED HIM NOW!

    (7) Last, but not least: PLAYERS, please STEP UP and FOLLOW THE GAME PLAN. PLAY SMART, AGGRESSIVE, & CONFIDENT, AND LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FLOOR! Thank you.

  • Austin

    That is good that you think your team is better after two wins. In game 1 the Spus played like shit and managed to lose by double digits. Game 2 Frye was 5-6 from beyond the arc. Don’t go getting to haughty after two HOME wins. Hornets fans seemed to think they had the better squad in 2008 and the Spurs quickly quieted those claims. I know you are not bragging but why come on here then? Only asshole Spurs fans have gone on your blogs in the past when we beat your team.

  • Tyler

    @Jim Henderson –

    First, I think you need to take a deep breathe and sit down, cause’ from all the shouting (CAPS), it sounds like you’re pretty frustrated.

    In regards to Blair, no matter which way you cut it, he hasn’t been good and referring to stats on a prorated 36min/game with a sample size of 8 games is pretty dangerous – by the same token, Blair is also averaging over 6.5 fouls per 36 min, a far higher rate than anyone else on the team and in terms of +/- per minute, he’s fared worse than Bonner. So while he might be averaging 16 and 16 per 36 minutes, a sample size of just 8 games isn’t too reliable.

    Now as far limited minutes, it’s definitely harder to get in any type of rhythm. But boxing out an opponent has nothing to do with how many minutes you play and it’s definitely not an intangible like you said above (intangibles = heart, hustle, leadership and other hard-to-quantify things). The box out is a skill every big man at the NBA level knows how to do, and we should expect a player of Blair’s quickness, strength, agility and basketball IQ to be able to do just that. In my opinion, that’s not too much to ask of a rookie, especially when he’s primarily going up against the other team’s second unit. He needs to do these things to be successful, and so far, he hasn’t. I would suppose that’s why he’s only averaged 9.3 min/game this postseason.

    Keep in mind, at this point in the season, there are no more rookies – Blair has had a full year of NBA basketball under his belt. At this point, there shouldn’t be too many suprises. But the simple fact is, like Bonner, Mason, and Bogans, Blair hasn’t stepped up and performed like he needs to.

  • Cheyenne Harty

    1) I think Ginobili should guard Nash. He’s got enough speed, craftiness and length to give the much shorter Nash problems. Plus, he’s a lefty, the correct hand to use on defense.

    2)Shame that we couldn’t do better for Timmy, who in my opinion, was the game’s most efficient player.

    3) Aside from TD, who ripped down six offensive rees on one leg, no Spur worked the offensive glass. Where was Jefferson, McDyess, Bonner or Blair (perhaps sh*tt%ng on the young pup isn’t fair since he only played nine minutes and was the only player not named TD to get on an offensive rebound)? Still, getting destroyed 18-7 in the OREB column is inexcusable. Hurry Tiago! Hurry!

    4) I had no probs with our offense. If Gino had his game on, we would have probably shot 60 percent. We loss this game on aggressiveness, which is acceptable if your a Sun, but not for San Antonio. It’s like we wanted to change roles. Now the Suns are playing tough, and Manu, not Nash, is walking around with the busted schnoz. Now the Phoenix is on the boards, while we focus on offense. I don’t want to trade places, who the f*(K would?

  • Jim Henderson

    Tyler
    May 6th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    “@Jim Henderson –

    First, I think you need to take a deep breathe and sit down, cause’ from all the shouting (CAPS), it sounds like you’re pretty frustrated.”

    Sure I’m frustrated with our current position, but no more than any other Spurs fan. I’m simply EMPHASIZING a point for the clueless among us.

    “In regards to Blair, no matter which way you cut it, he hasn’t been good and referring to stats on a prorated 36min/game with a sample size of 8 games is pretty dangerous”.

    “…..he hasn’t been good…..”? (mere assertion)

    With such vague and unsupportable comments, you keep making me go back and DOCUMENT the stats that clearly, and emphatically, neuters your point; and it’s starting to get annoying. But here we go again. Here’s the central FACT that effectively counters your “statistical” argument (your other argument is a mere assertion):

    During the entire 82 GAME regular season, Blairs 36 mpg. numbers are 15 ppg. & 13 rpg.

    “Now as far limited minutes, it’s definitely harder to get in any type of rhythm.”

    Thanks for the MINI-concession!

    “…….boxing out an opponent has nothing to do with how many minutes you play and it’s definitely not an intangible like you said above (intangibles = heart, hustle, leadership and other hard-to-quantify things).”

    No, anything NOT contained in the myriad of stats collected on a game may be considered an “intangible”, by any rational definition. And, contrary to your assertion, ALL levels of performance, including the physical & mental rigors in the trenches, have a lot to do with gaining game-time rhythm & focus, which is often gained through an appropriate allocation of minutes, particularly for a 21 year old rookie. A sporadic two minutes a pop now and then simply doesn’t cut it.

    “But the simple fact is, like Bonner, Mason, and Bogans, Blair hasn’t stepped up and performed like he needs to.”

    A simple answer to that: you’re flat out wrong. And, of course, you bring no hard data to bolster your argument. Just some loose observations about boxing out, or fouling. I’m afraid that’s nowhere near sufficient to make a compelling case. And you don’t bring data, for good reason, obviously, because their isn’t any data that could allow you to even come close to making your case.

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  • Bushka

    Good job to those riding the “It’s Pops Fault Kiddies Wagon…”

    We’re getting nailed everytime we don’t have Tim Duncan on the floor.

    Our bench is getting slaughtered.

    Manu is not playing great.

    Bonner can apparently no longer shoot.

    George is finding it a hell of a lot harder to create on his own.

    All these things (and many more) are killing us, getting outrebounded is killing us, not having two Tim Duncans is killing us….

    But sure we are just an internet rotation away from being the better team..

    The suns are playing better than us. It happens sometimes.

    Good god I am so sick of Mondays experts. Like any of us could key a victory with a clipboard if someone would just listen.

    It’s real life. The players are actual intelligent human beings who live this game 24 hours a day, they know exactly what they want to do, but guess what, theres another team who fight them for position and try to score more points than they do, and right now they are doing it better than our guys.

    Sometimes you just don’t win. It’s known as loosing.

  • junierizzle

    IT’s cool. SUNS just held serve.
    It sucks because SPURS could have for sure at least won one of those games.

    They will no doubt win Game 3 just out of desperation. They’ll win game 4 because FRYE and DUDLEY’s games don’t travel. (They wouldn’t work at home either if the SPurs just stayed on them)

    As an armchair coach I got no problem saying we need more DYCE in there. Especially in the clutch. He can hit his jumper. More BLAIR, he can play AMARE one on one. That way they can stay with the shooters.

  • junierizzle

    @BUSHKA

    SORRY DUDE but I can’t say the SUNS are the better team.
    The fact of the matter is SPURS stay with FRYE and SPURS win that game big.
    That’s why everyone is on hearing blasting out these comments. SUNS aren’t better. If they were better then there wouldn’t be so many comments. I can only speak for myself but if the SUNS were the better team and the SPURS had no shot, then I would admit it. Hell I probably wouldn’t even be on here venting my frustration.

    The thing that sucks the most is, say the SUNS actually advance to face the LAKERS. MY GOD THAT would suck. We all know FRYE wouldn’t hit any 3’s, NASH wouldn’t penetrate anything, JRICH would avg 10 points, Dudley will be non-existent, Dragic would pee in his short in STAPES center, etc, etc.

    That’s why I can’t say the SUNS are the better team.

  • BALLHOG

    @ Tyler

    After that post, Jim Henderson is now your daddy..

    @ Bushka

    If you are…..I mean if you truly are sick of hearing it, why continue to be?

    Of course we would all be crushed and have an extremely difficult time adapting to your absence.
    But, Im sure that with a lot of therapy, psychotrophics and alcohol, we would all eventually recover.

    There wouldnt be any more whining or name calling. Nobody’s hair would be getting pulled, no more temper tantrums or menstrual cycles…

    We would all just be lost.

  • Mark (suns fan)

    Jim henderson,

    i agree with you about the rebounding point… we’ve been killin the boards and i think that would definitely improve the spurs chances if they could start cleaning it up….i disagree on the pace of the game however…the spurs slowed down the game in game 2 and it worked for a while because the suns were missing their shots…the spurs wouldve benifited more during this time if they were running it down our throats, opening up a bigger margin than 9 ( i think that was about the peak of their lead in the first half). as soon as the shots started falling for the suns, they were right back in it… the spurs shouldve been trying to run up the score while the suns were cold…i know thats not their game but i honestly think that wouldve helped

    it just feels like the suns have too many weapons right now for the spurs…you try and shut one guy down, another guy is open to hit shots. you try and shut down the inside game and the outside opens up…you try to stop nash from scoring 33 like game 1 and he still gets 19 and 6 assists… and other guys pick up the scoring slack…im really not trying to rub this in…i honestly just came to this blog to see what the real spurs fans have to say and because the suns blog doesnt see nearly as much action in the comments section…not really much conversation about basketball over there…that peice about their jerseys and the immigration law picked up like 44 comments and i havent seen anywhere close to that on articles actually about basketball…

    all that said..i had not intended on commenting on this until i got about halfway through the comments and was thinking what i said in the first post…i know pop is a great coach and i was scared to death going into game 2…i know, as any suns fan does, how dangerous the spurs are and im still very nervous for game 3…the only time ill feel comfortable is when its over…

  • Mark (suns fan)

    @ bushka

    you said what i was trying to say in my first post…you hit the nail on the head

    i believe pop is doing all he can but his adjustments just uncover other flaws

  • Bushka

    Well the point is at times you have to accept that your going to get beaten, I find it hard to believe that your still carrying on like a pork chop after flogging the “we suck” horse all season long day in, day out.

    Anyone would expect you to be absolutely jubilant that we are finally staring down the barrel of elimination.

    The thing I find amusing is that you honestly think you know what needs to be done.

    @Jnr

    I am not saying the Suns are the better team, I am saying that sometimes you just need to accept that you lost the game and move on.

    Some people have this enormous sense of entitlement that the spurs should just win, and that if they don’t it’s somebodies fault.

    I hate that lack of sportsmanship, it’s the same kind of guys you never want to play golf with, or watch a game with because it’s always somebodies fault.

    Treating the players like they are children, and honestly believing that you have the answers is pretty much where I draw the line.

    This particularly is directed at you Ballhog, theres scant regard in your constant rants for positive, and I’d reckon that anyone who had to watch a game with you would be self harming before the end of the first quarter.

  • junierizzle

    BUSHKA

    I see your point. SUNS won end of story.
    BUT,
    Everyone here is discussing how they won. The series isn’t over. It’s completely relevant to analyze these two games. SPURS can still win this series. I don’t think anyone is blaming Coach/Players just to blame someone. A lot of these posts are backed up with statistics. If the SUNS end up winning the series then hats off to them. If that happens then who cares about BONNER’s minutes after that.

    But like I said, it ain’t over.

  • http://www.goodtimescomic.net Jordan

    Basketball is a game of matchups. Until Pop can reverse it, the Suns out matchup us. They have a slightly more athletic Bonner who can apparently defend Duncan (something I wouldn’t expect Bonner to be able to do).

    What it comes down to is that the Spurs don’t have shooters anymore. How many times did the Suns double Duncan before he got the ball? Even with our “spacing”, the Suns were able to double team a guy without the ball without fear that they would get burned.

    The Suns are daring our supporting cast to step up, and so far they haven’t. We’ve been daring their supporting cast to step up and they did. Unfortunately it cost us a game and a 0-2 hole.

    Last thing, we have been outplayed every single quarter except the first of game 2. They’ve outhustled us so far. If that continues, this will be a sweep. We can’t expect these Suns to lay over.

    Ok, I lied… one more thing. The Suns fans are already talking about how much fun they’ll have playing the Lakers. This series is still in doubt, we need to come out focused.

  • junierizzle

    Jordan

    Suns fans talking about how much fun they’ll have playing the LAKERS. WOW

    Lakers would win in 5.

  • Captain Obvious

    @ Jim Henderson

    After Game 2, the Suns and Spurs have now played 5 games this season, and the Suns have scored at least 110 pts in each game. With that kind of sample size, what evidence have you seen that the Spurs can suddenly slow the game down?

    Also, it’s easier said than done to stay on the 3-pt shooters. With Nash breaking down the defense and getting to the rim, there has to be help rotating over, and that’s when he finds the open man. The other option is to let Nash and Stoudemire pick-and-roll the Spurs to death.

    Finally, @junierizzle, I love the random statements that you make without a hint of anything factual to back it up. I’m sure that Nash wouldn’t be able to penetrate at all against the Lakers. He’s only been doing it to the entire league for the past decade. Retarded.

    Good luck Spurs fans, you’re going to need it.

  • Joe

    @Trade TP

    Unless you’re a star player that your team absolutely depends on, 6 fouls in 20 minutes keeps you on the bench no matter who the coach is. Period. That’s an explanation of why Blair did not play more in the games that are already in the books.

    Kisses and hugs,
    Joe

  • Jim Henderson

    Bushka
    May 6th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I agree, Bushka, that at the end of the day the Suns “might” just be better than us. Losing happens, in games, and series. That said, we haven’t lost this series yet, and it does not invalidate my points (I’m sure that wasn’t your intention). I just don’t understand why we don’t play Blair more when we know that rebounding and scoring in the paint should be to our advantage against this team in this series? Sure, Blair has some weaknesses, but I believe in this series his strengths, if given a real chance, with sufficient minutes, would outweigh his weaknesses (he has averaged 1.8 fouls per 9 minutes of playing time in the playoffs, versus 1.5 fouls per 9 minutes during the regular season – but, with his limited play, we’re unwittingly setting him up to be over-anxious to make an impact “quicker” — thus the increased fouls – this guy has a BIG desire to make an impact, now – give him sufficient time to do it!).

    And I also don’t understand why we don’t use almost the entire shot-clock on most possessions? Tempo is KEY, as you know. We have the type of team that can play slow. The Suns do not. In addition, we simply can’t afford to play guys like Mason & Bonner. Do I need to explain why, again? The bottom line is, I just want us to have the best shot at winning, and I do question some of Pops decisions in this series. I know he’s probably right, and I’m probably wrong, but I can’t resist stating what I consider to be obvious strategy issues that could be altered in our favor. I’m just asking for someone to make a convincing case that the issues I raise on this thread have no merit, and that Pop is in fact in the process of brilliantly countering what the Suns have thrown at us thus far. I know we should look better at home, but I’m a bit concerned about what I’ve seen in this series over the first two games in Phoenix. Can anyone tell me what’s going through Pop’s mind regarding the strategy & player decisions he’s made in this series?

    Mark (suns fan)
    May 6th, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Great, a Suns fan telling me that the Spurs should not slow the game down, and in fact, should try to “out-run” the Suns during certain stretches of the game?! If Pop would listen to you, Mark, you’d be a very valuable operative for the Suns organization. That’s all I can say.

  • Hurm66

    Someone else mentioned a similarity to the Hornets series in 2008 and there’s one thing in common.

    After the first two losses Pop decided to take Bowen off of Paul since he wasn’t really very effective and instead told him to stay home on Peja. Worked like magic.

    The Spurs should do the exact same thing here – live with Nash and Amare and two point buckets but guard the perimeter. Frye’s ridiculous 15 points were the difference.

    I know it’s too easy to blame the refs but they weren’t letting the Spurs play much. Typical that Crawford was out there and the Spurs shoot a bunch less free throws.

    I also think it’s time to realize this is the playoffs. There needs to be a good, clean but hard foul on some Suns to remind them – smack ‘em in the mouth sort of.

    They’ve gotten the breaks so far in this series, but I sense the Spurs getting angry and think this series is far from over. Let’s take it one game at a time.

  • Sid (Suns fan)

    As a Suns fan, I won’t feel safe even if up 3-0. The Spurs are certainly good enough to reel off 4 in a row.

    That said, Gentry has been outcoaching Pop pretty badly this series. He’s played the exact right matchups, doubled off the right people, and has generally been way more impressive than he’s getting credit for.

    A Suns sweep would be pretty cathartic (the 2007 playoffs were the most painful sports experience I can remember; that Suns team would have swept the Cavs in the Finals as well).

  • Hobson13

    Gang, the Suns were just the better team for the first two games of the series. At this point, Amare, Nash, and Jrich are getting what they want and then guys like Dudley and Frye are getting off. I’m rather disturbed, because Duncan and Parker had a good game, Jefferson had his best game of the playoffs, Manu struggled with his shooting (again) but still had a game high 11 assists, and Hill wasn’t too bad. We didn’t play a BAD game and yet we still lost.

    What do we have to do to win? Do Manu, Tim, and Tony each have to score 25 and Hill and Jefferson score 18 in order for us to come through?? If that has to happen, we are in trouble. As many have indicated, Spurs aren’t as deep as the Suns at this point. Especially since Pop won’t play Blair or McDyess. In reality, we played only 8 guys last night. Thats not going to work considering the Spurs age and the Suns tempo.

    I just have a feeling that the Suns may get their revenge they’ve been seeking for all these years. Duncan can no longer carry this team alone and the Spurs simply don’t have the depth with bums like Bonner, Mason, and Bogans. Neither do we have the ability to hit the open 3 which is critical in order to punish any double teaming of Duncan. In reality, we have only Hill’s corner 3 and Manu’s wildly inconsistent 3 pt shot that can spread the floor on the Suns. We are in trouble, folks.

  • BigJ

    Jesse noted it right; Suns held serve at home. Now lets see how the Spurs handle things back on their court.

    The ebb and flow of a seven game series is a marvelous thing to watch. The Suns are riding high and appear unbeatable. If the Spurs hold serve and win at home for the next two games, then different observations will be made.

    It will be fun to watch.

    Go Spurs Go!

  • Bushka

    Jim absolutely wasn’t directed at you.

    Theres constructive conversation and then theres just being obtuse and negative.

    I’m in the Blair boat, i’d love to see him play more minutes at the expense of mudguts. If Bonners not a shooter he is not a help.

    If we can win two games at home i’d be happy as a lark, and I feel regardless of how this series has turned out the overwhelming return from the last month of play in both the regular season and playoffs has been positive.

    We have found out that we can get bigger contributions from R.J, and McDyess, that TP was just playing injured and wasn’t in decline, and that Manu is still Manu, which at the midpoint of the season was a real worry.

    So i’m not really that worried about the outcome of this series as far as I am concerned we’re above and beyond where I thought we would be.

  • Manolo Pedralvez

    Like, San Antonio basketball, let’s make this plain and simple: the Phoenix Suns – egad! – “out-Spurred” the Spurs, beaten by a scrappier, more enterprising mirror image of their own selves.
    The next two games will be a test of character of for the Spurs. Lose Game 3, and their virtual goners, win it, then it’s a new ballgame. As Pop said his charges are “grown men” who know what to do, and no amount of motivational speeches will work if they don’t execute.
    Like it or not, the Suns have been using the “pounding-the-rock” principle against the once-indestructible Spurs (at least that’s what they were in Phoenix eyes until this series), who have shown cracks on the surface.
    Time for San Antonio to wrest the hammer back and do some pounding on their own…. or else kiss their title hopes goodbye.

  • Bushka

    Well put Manolo.

  • rj

    i hate all this “held serve” talk in reguards to losing the first two games of a playoff series on the road.

    no team feels good or assured about losing playoff teams. you play the games to win. period

    our bench is has regressed so much that we essentially look like a college team out there, rotating 6 players consistently. phoenix has too many weapons and scrappy contributors for us to counter.

    bringing manu off the bench is a good idea. parker is a great bench scorer, but manu has a better knack for getting others involved and running the pick and rool with dejuan blair. keith bogans should earn more minutes as well. he has made some mental mistakes lately, but once he gets back into the rotation, he should return the the defensive ace and heady offensive player that he once was for us in the beginning.

    i personally feel emotionally drained after the dallas series and phoenix really looks like the better team.

  • Trade Tp

    Joe – I bet you sit on the bench next to Pop. What kind of sense, basketball or basic logic, does that make.

    We need aggressive players but we’re afraid to commit fouls? Dumber than a brick.

    How about this: Lets play guys who dont foul and let the other team make uncontested layups!!!!!

    Great IDEA JOE!!! I bet if we played by your strategy we would be down 0-2… wait…….

    Bushka= accept the fact that we will lose?

    I dont know what “loosing” is but if its anything to do with accepting defeat count me out. Stop being a pussy. So what, were down 0-2 some of it is the players not producing, and a lot of it is POP putting unsuccessful players in situations to make them more unsuccessful. Get off Pops D

  • Tyler

    @Jim

    Tell me if you disagree with any of these claims:

    – Blair struggled to score against Dallas’ length
    – Blair struggled to keep Haywood and Dampier off the offensive glass
    – Blair (and Bonner) struggled to keep Phoenix off the offensive glass in game 2.

    In my opinion, these claims are fairly obvious if you watched the games (I’m not the only one that pointed some of these things out) and to clamor for stats that back these claims up is overkill in my book – they’re so obvious you really shouldn’t need much confirmation. And that’s my point – Dejuan Blair has not played well thus far. That’s it. And to call that claim “unsupportable” is pretty rediculous.

    Am I really “flat out wrong” when I say Blair hasn’t played well? And should I infer that you believe Blair has in fact, played well this posteason? Has posteason-Blair been better (or even with) than regular-season-Blair? I don’t believe so, and to disregard a pretty reasonable claim (at least I think so) because it isn’t backed up by stats at every turn is misguided.

    Jim, I respect your opinion, but as I’m sure you know, stats are not the holy grail, especially those derived over only 8 games. In this instance, I would say simple observation should hold more weight. And from my POV, I think Blair has come in below expectations.

  • Tyler

    And Jim –

    Just to be clear, I’m not advocating that we don’t play Blair. I’m just pointing out that he hasn’t been as good as we hoped thus far.

    However, going forward in this series, controlling the glass is going to be one of our top priorities. And looking at our roster, to turn the tide on the glass, Blair is one of the first guys I can point to and say, “he can play much, much better in that area.” As opposed to Bonner, we pretty much know rebounding is not his forte, and thus, it’s hard for me to believe he’s going to give us much more than we’ve seen. But Blair? He can be a difference maker if he plays better. The other half of that of course, is playing time. But if he does play better, I have a feeling Pop will be more than happy to extend his minutes.

  • Joe

    @ TradeTP

    I’m not anti-Blair, and your posts are taking what I’m saying out of context. I wish Pop had given him more time on the court early in the season when we knew we were going to lose some games due to the adjustment with the new faces and Timmy & Manu taking the summer off. Maybe his defensive game would have matured with that extra PT to something more closely resembling his offensive game.

    That said, I don’t think fouling intimidates people as much as shot-blocking does. Blair can’t give us that, and the timing on the fouls in the minutes he’s played so far hasn’t been great, either. Two of the six fouls were and-1s in which the Suns made the resulting free-throw. If anything, that energizes the Suns, not intimidates them. Another was a shooting foul on Nash, a career 90%+ FT shooter who buried both shots. Another was a shooting foul on Amare, who has shot 80%+ in 2 of the last 4 seasons and buried both foul shots. Another was a shooting foul on Barbosa, a career 83% FT shooter who buried both shots.

    Maybe you would choose differently, but history says that most coaches around the league sit players who foul that quickly in those situations, especially if they’re rookies. Sitting a guy in one game because of foul trouble doesn’t mean we shouldn’t play him in the future, but let’s not whitewash the down side of how Blair played in the first 2 games.

    Respond if you want to, but I’m done with this thread.

  • rcast1986

    There’s so much panic and “we did so many good things and lost; how can we possibly lose!?” in the voices of the commenters. Let’s just simmer down a few notches.

    Maybe I should be, but I’m honestly not worried at all. Would I prefer to be 2-0 or 1-1 at this point? Well of course. But I don’t think we’re in any sort of trouble based on the first two games of this series.

    Here’s how I see it: In Dallas, we had a game where we played well, but the officials absolutely did not like what we were doing. That was game 1 and we lost. We also had a game where we just played like absolute crap and didn’t deserve a win; that was game 5. Unfortunately for us, we’ve already had both of those. Game 1 we came out of the gate flat, and if I’m looking for a reason I would point to the emotional plateau that inevitably occurs after overcoming a huge rival like Dallas. It almost had to happen. Now, again unfortunately, Phoenix is too good a team and was far too amped up to play us to lose after a performance like the one we gave.

    Game 2 of this series was “The Ref Game.” I’m not into blaming refs, and I’m certainly not going to do that now, but let’s be honest: We weren’t allowed to play our game, and our best players were plagued with many phantom calls that took us out of it. We could’ve hit a few more shots, and we lost the rebounding battle, etc., but if you want a reason as to why we lost that game despite outplaying the Suns, look to the net positive 15 attempts Phoenix took at the stripe and the net positive 14 points they gained from that advantage.

    We could have been more aggressive, and they did a pretty decent job at clogging the lanes, but that ability comes with the confidence that you won’t get whistled for playing hard down low, something Amare still has a difficult time doing, and which a young player like Amundson (in his 3rd season or so) could easily be guilty of fouling if a ref isn’t conveniently swallowing his whistle every time a Phoenix player is doing the hacking. We hit 7 three’s in the game — only two fewer than they did — at an almost 40% clip, so spreading the floor definitely isn’t the issue.

    In a game where the game is being called a little more evenly or in our favor, we will win. I have no doubts about that. Phoenix is far too good for us to pull through with 14 points given up on free throws, turnovers that come as a result of 4 illegal screen calls for us on offense, and the several times that we would sink one or two from the charity stripe only to have the whistle blown in Phoenix’s favor as we grabbed a rebound from the missed shot, or as the Suns inbounded the ball, essentially negating our possession.

    My point with all this is that, in these situations, we rarely — if ever — lose confidence and resolve, a problem that haunted us in game 1 of this series and that we should have out of the way. If allowed to play our game (I don’t foresee that piece of shit Joe Crawford reffing another of our games), at least to a reasonable degree, we should wrap this thing up in 7. Because as good as everyone wants to tell us Phoenix is (they are), we’re as good or better. Our players just have to make sure and continue to play like it.

  • Jim Henderson

    Tyler
    May 7th, 2010 at 7:37 am

    “However, going forward in this series, controlling the glass is going to be one of our top priorities. And looking at our roster, to turn the tide on the glass, Blair is one of the first guys I can point to and say, “he can play much, much better in that area.” As opposed to Bonner, we pretty much know rebounding is not his forte, and thus, it’s hard for me to believe he’s going to give us much more than we’ve seen. But Blair? He can be a difference maker if he plays better. The other half of that of course, is playing time. But if he does play better, I have a feeling Pop will be more than happy to extend his minutes.”

    That is the only part of your posts about Blair on this thread that I essentially agree with. The other parts, well, we’ll just have to disagree on. But now I’d like to comment specifically about the following part of your post:

    “But Blair? He can be a difference maker if he plays better. The other half of that of course, is playing time. But if he does play better, I have a feeling Pop will be more than happy to extend his minutes.”

    I’m sure you remember Carlisle complaining that Blair was getting all the 50/50 balls in one of the games against Dallas. That’s one example of several things that Blair has done RIGHT in his limited minutes. Thus, in my view, while Blair has not played great in these playoffs, he has certainly not played poorly enough to limit his minutes so severely, particularly in this series, with these match-ups inside. And the reason the Suns got 8 offensive rebounds in the 2nd quarter of game two was by no means “just about Blair”. Those rebounds took place over the entire quarter, Blair only played 2-3 minutes in the quarter, we had other front court players in the game at the time as well, and let’s face it, Dudley had great energy & effort, feeding off his home crowd, and he SURPRISED our ENTIRE team. It wasn’t just Blair that was caught flat-footed, and he does not deserve to be the scapegoat.

    The point is, it’s pretty hard to distinguish oneself by playing FOUR minutes for an entire HALF in a basketball game. Even one of the most clutch performers in playoff history, Robert Horry, with 15 YEARS of playoff experience, would have a tough time making an impact in a game by playing just FOUR minutes per HALF. A grade school kid could understand this bit of common sense.

    This is the KEY excerpt from your post:

    “But Blair? He can be a difference maker if he plays better. The other half of that of course, is playing time.”

    You’re damn right, Blair could be a “dark horse”, difference maker, and that’s EXACTLY what we need in this series. But to be that difference maker, he’s gotta be given some time. He’s played well-enough overall in these playoffs where you can tell that more minutes would only help him, and his confidence. We’ve got to stick with him more than 2-4 minutes per stint on the floor! We need to stop nit-picking him. Sure, point out his mistakes during the game (he’s a natural, & a quick learner), but reaffirm his value also, and your confidence in him, by “sticking with him” longer. I think we would be pleasantly surprised by the results.

  • Jim Henderson

    rcast1986
    May 7th, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I agree with the main thrust of your post, but in game two, we got our asses handed to us on the glass, refs or no refs. We will not win with that kind of performance on the glass. I’m confident we can correct this, but it’s surely not a given.

  • Tyler

    @Jim –

    I didn’t mean come across as scapegoating Dejuan – that wasn’t my intention. As I’ve said before, he’s far, far from the only reason we’re down 2-0.

    Like many young players in the playoffs, I think playing in front of the home crowd should help Dejaun. Just like the Dallas series, Blair was a totally different player in San Antonio. He really is someone that can feed off the crowd and dominate the game in short stretches. And maybe I’m spoiled or maybe he’s a victim of his own success, but I expect him to dominate every time he steps on the court. And that’s where my last post came from – I expect more from him than he’s given us. But I will concede the point that as a young player, he needs the opportunity to play through his mistakes and I really hope he’s given that opportunity. But I hope even more that he plays well, and leaves Pop no choice but to give him more minutes.

    Hopefully he can duplicate his game 3 against Dallas. We sure do need it, and he sure is due for a breakout performance.

  • Bushka

    Wow Tradetp

    Thats exactly what i said…..

    If by exactly you mean “not like it at all”.

    I said that you sometimes get beat and it’s no shame.

    I am glad that you are however such a never say die winner and will carry this team on your broad shoulders to victory…

    By that of course I mean you’ll have no input.

  • rcast1986

    Jim,

    We should hope to win the rebounding category in the same way we should work to win in every category, but I think that if we can play the same kind of defense that nets a low 40% shooting from Phoenix, we’ll be fine, sans outrageous free throws. I guess the point is that the fewer opportunities the opposition has, the likelier it is that they will shoot a lower percentage, but again, even after getting outrebounded last game, our D still held them well. It was mostly just the damn phantom calls that screwed us.

  • Jim Henderson

    rcast1986
    May 7th, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    “It was mostly just the damn phantom calls that screwed us.”

    No, it was getting our ass handed to us on the boards.

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