Skip to content

NBA Playoffs, Suns v. Spurs Game 4: The deed is done.

May 10, 2010, 1:15 AM EDT

Nash_eye.jpgThe Phoenix Suns just swept the San Antonio Spurs. The Phoenix Suns
just swept the San Antonio Spurs. The Phoenix Suns just swept the San
Antonio Spurs.

Maybe if I type that phrase enough times, the
basketball gods will tie my precious typing fingers into knots for my
blasphemy. In what universe could the Suns sweep the Spurs in the
playoffs? In what bizarro dimension is this Phoenix team a
Western Conference finalist, and the most respected franchise in the
league receiving the business end of a broom?

Ours,
apparently. Suspend your disbelief. It’s not easy; it wasn’t easy to
foresee the Suns closing out the series in four games in San
Antonio facing yet another double-digit deficit. Yet they did it,
107-101, because Phoenix has played like the best team in the Western
Conference, even if a little team in Los Angeles would have something
to say about that.

The Suns aren’t just good, they’re damn
good. They’ll be considered underdogs against the Lakers even after
ousting the Spurs in the most impressive of fashions, but any fan,
basketball junkie, or NBA scribe that pencils L.A. in as a Finals
participant needs to take a long, hard look at what Phoenix was able to
accomplish in this series.

Manu Ginobili, who could have made
a legitimate claim as the best Spur over the final stretch of the
regular season, was trapped like mad in the pick and roll and
completely smothered offensively at times. He finished Game 4 with 15
points and nine assists, but shot just 2-of-11 from the field. Tim
Duncan may seem like an imposing match-up for the Suns, but it’s no
secret that Manu and Tony Parker hold the keys to the offense.
Eliminate the threat of Ginobili operating (for either scoring or
playmaking purposes) off of the Spurs’ staple pick-and-roll, and San
Antonio is quite beatable. Quite sweepable, apparently.

Not that
the Suns’ defense ignored Duncan, either. His lack of effectiveness as
the roll man in pick-and-roll situations was shocking, and though
Phoenix committed two defenders and a strong front to the ball-handler
on almost every screen, Duncan never seemed all that open. There were
so many cases where the Suns’ help defenders would beat him to his spot
rolling down the lane in order to contest his attempts or run
interference on the roll lob, and Tim was left in limbo.

That
strategy wasn’t enough to deny him from reaching 17 points (on 50%
shooting) and eight rebounds in Game 4, but the fact that Duncan wasn’t
more of a factor in this series is as much a tribute to the Suns’ post
defense as it was their defensive rotations on the pick-and-roll.

Limit
the effectiveness of those two players on the offensive end, and Tony
Parker’s 22-point, five-assist effort is solid rather than deadly,
George Hill’s night is nice rather than headline-worthy, and hell, Matt
Bonner’s 14 points on just six attempts is nothing special, as opposed
to the Red Rocket that broke the camel’s back.

It’s almost
cliché these days to praise the Suns’ defense, but there’s simply no
way to write a proper recap without giving Phoenix their due. Alvin
Gentry has simply done a phenomenal job — a Popovichian job, dare I
say — of coaching this team into rotating properly on the defensive
end. No matter how much pressure was committed to blitzing Ginobili or
doubling Duncan in the post, the Suns’ defense never seemed to be on
tilt. It was vulnerable at times, but they always recovered.

Phoenix
just came down the court again and again and played consistently solid
defense. It wasn’t so much the effectiveness of the Suns’ D on a
per-point or even per-possession basis (San Antonio still scored 101
points and scored at a rate of 105.2 points per 100 possessions), but
the resiliency of that defense that was the most impressive. It wasn’t
always effective, but the Suns’ rotations were just relentless. They
forced 16 turnovers and limited San Antonio’s three-point attempts
(just 11 to Phoenix’s 24), and they worked, worked, worked.

With
the difficulties that the Suns posed for the Spurs on the other end,
that was obviously enough for them to not only win the series, but do
it without dropping a single game. San Antonio simply lacked the
ability to cover all of the bases of the Suns’ multifaceted offense,
and their peak-too-early performances reeked of a team that was just a
bit outmatched. “They made it hard for us to guard them for 48
minutes,” Gregg Popovich said. “We’d go into the fourth quarter and
someone for them would step up. Those are the kinds of things that
happen with that team.”

At various points in this series, that
nameless “someone” that stepped up has been a strong perimeter
defender, a three-point shooter, a hustle rebounder, and an undersung
reserve. In Game 4, it was Steve Nash, who came back into the game
after receiving six stitches over his right eye in the third quarter to
lead the Suns to a remarkable close-out performance. Nash, with one eye
swollen shut, was responsible for 21 of his team’s 31 points while the
game was still meaningful.

“I just feel fortunate that I had the
chance to get back out there,” Steve Nash said. “I don’t know how it
didn’t keep me on the sidelines.” It’s something of a wonder that it
didn’t. Nash’s eye was not only bruised, but swollen almost completely
shut. So naturally, he not only hit a pull-up three in transition just
moments after returning the floor, but got excellent looks for both
himself and Amar’e Stoudemire in the game’s deciding minutes.

Amar’e
was a force on his own for most of the game (he had 29 points of his
own), but with Nash spoon-feeding him wide open mid-range jumpers to
complement his prior assault of layups, dunks, and runners, he was
finally able to exact his revenge against San Antonio. “It’s
beautiful,” Stoudemire said of finally defeating the Spurs in the
postseason after falling short in four straight attempts. “It feels
great.”

It must. Phoenix has a long road to head, but the sight
of San Antonio’s corpse at their feet has to offer some relief. If not
as evidence that the Suns have exorcised their demons, then at least as
validation of their success this season. This is no longer the team
that struggled to match up with the Blazers at times, but a deep,
talented squad capable of giving any playoff opponent a run for their money. Even the Lakers. Even an opponent waiting beyond that’s even more challenging.

That’s
just how good these Suns are, and though Phoenix still continues to
surprise — as they did tonight, even when their series victory seemed
imminent — nothing about this team should be startling from this point
forward. Based on their performance from this series, we should expect
the best from the Suns. They’ve played well enough to earn that.   

  1. Nick - May 10, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    Mobtown – I wholeheartedly agree with you.
    I am not saying the Suns are going to sweep the series or even win the series, but just because the Lakers were last years champions does not mean they will be this years champions.
    Look what the suns did against the Trailblazers I think throughout the regular season they only won a game against them, but they took the series in 6.
    The spurs are no slouch and again Mobtown is correct most teams in the west have almost identical records. So beating a 7 in the west is like beating 2nd or 3rd in the west.
    Look at the Cavs right now they have the best record in the league with the best player in the league and they are struggling at times against the Celtics.
    The Suns are in the 3rd round for a reason and so will the Lakers. You have to play the games before you can make a judgement, but I wouldn’t say the Lakers have it in the bag.

  2. PIMPNUTS - May 10, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    LAKERS AIN’T SH*T. THERE HAVING TO MANY PROBLEMS. FISHER JUST LOOKS TIRED. BYNUM CAN’T STAY HEALTHY, HE LOOKS LIKE HIS KNEES ABOUT TO GIVE OUT ANY DAY. ARTEST JUST CANT SEEM OPERATE IN THE TRIANGLE OFFENSE. NOW ODUM AND GASOL HAVE BEEN SOLID SOME NIGHTS BUT MOST NIGHTS SEEM TO BE DISSAPEARING ALL TOGETHER.
    MATCHUPS-
    NASH/DRAGIC VS. FISHER/BROWN/FARMAR=ADVANTAGE SUNS.
    J RICH/BARBOSA VS KOBE/ARTEST/SASHA=ADVANTAGE LAKERS.
    J RICH SHOULD BE ABLE TO ALLEVIATE THAT ADVANTAGE IF HE CAN SCORE. THIS WILL BE IMPORTANT FOR THE SUNS TO MAKE THIS MATCHUP MORE EVEN.
    HILL/DUDLEY VS ARTEST/WALTON=TIGHT MATCHUP LAKERS SLIGHT ADVANTAGE.
    AMARE/AMUNDSON VS GASOL/ODUM=TIGHT MATCHUP SUNS SLIGHT ADVANTAGE.
    THE SUNS HAVE TO WIN THIS MATCHUP IF THEY’RE GONNA HAVE A CHANCE WHICH THEY SHOULD.
    LOPEZ/FRYE VS BYNUM/GASOL/MBENGA= This one is a tough one to call. Frye is a perimeter shooter that’s going to cause match up problems for the Lakers. If he’s hitting threes, the Lakers may have to keep one of Gasol or Bynum on the bench and play Odom. That opens it up some for Amare. So, it’s pick your poison for LA. The key here may be rebounding at this position. If the Suns can out rebound the Laker frontcourt, I think they can win the series.

  3. thechosenone - May 10, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Yea the Lakers may have won the season series, but the Suns have taken the Lakers out of the Playoffs 4-out-of-the-last-5 times meeting. (Including being down 0-3 and come back and win the series) So think about it. It will be a good series even if the Suns do fall at least we beat a team that has taken us out of the Playoffs the last 5 times (even if they are old now)

  4. Ron - May 10, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    Really? First time for a championship since 1993? I was unaware that Phoenix EVER won a championship, but perhaps you are in that bizarro dimension of the universe that the writer imagined.
    I think your post was just to garner reaction from fans of other teams. It can’t be serious. Last time I checked, there were no thugs on the Lakers, Spurs, Celtics, as you mentioned. And I don’t know what you mean by your team being “pure.” Again, last time I checked, Phoenix was quite flawed, having meandered their way through the season. They may be peaking now, but the playoffs are all about matchups. Utah had incredible success against Denver, even with all their injuries, because of matchups. But they ran into a wall with the Lakers’ height.
    Phoenix won’t win four games against the Lakers. Maybe one. No, it’s not your time now. Not this season. You need to resign Amare, tho. That’s the deal breaker for future success.

  5. Suns Fan - May 10, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Excuse me, pjthedoors, ibejeph, underdog fan, etc. — where was all of your smack down talking of the Spurs when the demolished the Number 2 seed Mavericks!? The Spurs were not pansies. They are well-coached and veteran players. The Suns just outplayed a quality team — plain and simple — and SWEPT them. Give me the Suns bench against the Lakers bench any day.

  6. Anonymous - May 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    No one has ever been down 3-0 and come back to win a series. I don’t know about the accuracy of your stats. The last couple of times the Suns knocked out the Lakers were when the Lakers were in rebuild mode, and the Suns should have contended for the title. The shoes were on different feet. You can’t judge what will happen now by what has happened in the past. Simply put, the Suns match up with the Lakers about as well as the Jazz do. The Lakers are salivating with a Suns matchup. Lakers will win that series easily. The tough series for them will be Orlando.

  7. thechosenone - May 10, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Rasheed Wallace is a thug that plays for the Celtics just throwing that out there. But i heard there were a couple rapeist that play for the Lakers (Kobe) even though he is a very good player and the Spurs are just chump change now that nobody likes

  8. thechosenone - May 10, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    The Suns are the only team to be down 0-3 and still win and we don’t need no rebuilding excuse cause they were in they playoffs which mean they were compeating which means they were not rebuilding. o and Artest is a thug that Plays for the Lakers

  9. Ron - May 10, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    Your post is a non-sequitor. Laker jerseys sell better than any team outside of California, fool. The Lakers are successful, so there are many fans who enjoy their play. There are also many Laker fans who have moved throughout the country for various reasons, so obviously they still cheer on their team.
    Really your post does not deserve an answer as it is. You are attempting to provoke a fan base that doesn’t care about cretins such as yourself. You put down the hate and walk away from the keyboard, sparky. Enjoy the Lake Show’s 16 title and convert. You will love life much more.
    And teams that win multiple titles in the same decade are not “actors.” They are champions. Too bad for you, hater.

  10. Ron - May 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    No teams has ever been down 3-0 and come back to win a series. Your facts are flawed.

  11. JT - May 10, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    All you Laker haters, envy and jealosy are bad traits to have. You will get rings if your team’s owner is committed to winning and willing to spend money and even that is not a guarantee, just ask Mark Cuban!! Deal with it. Lakers are a winning organization…but you go on hating us, feel sad for all of you!!

  12. Ron - May 10, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    For a team that ain’t worth “****” they just won five playoff games in a row.
    Your analysis is flawed. Sasha isn’t even available for the playoffs, due to injury. Suns cannot get past the Lakers height. Lakers in five.

  13. LakersFan - May 10, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    There are so many idiotic comments here from Suns fans, I have saved them all … and will repost them after the Lakers trounce the Suns in the WCF. Most of these comments don’t even deserve an answer, just a repost later so you’ll see how dumb you were.
    The Suns don’t stand a chance. Lakers in 6.

  14. PIMPNUTS - May 10, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    LAKERS DEFINITELY HAVE A SIZE ADVANTAGE BUT THEY CAN NOT RUN WITH THE SUNS FOR 48 MINUTES AND THE SUNS BENCH IS ON FIRE RIGHT NOW. KOBE HAS BEEN CARRYIN THE LAKERS AND THEY ARE BARELY SCRAPING BY THE JAZZ. KOBE CANT DO IT ALL AND UNLESS ARTEST STEPS UP THEY MIGHT JUST BE PUT IN THE DUST PAN WITH THE SPURS.

  15. Kevin - May 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Don’t know about five, the Lakers will create a problem because of their size and the triangle makes it hard to isolate on defense but the Suns bench depth will keep them in these games. If Lopez can get back, they will do better on the boards to keep it closer for the starters. It should prove to be a good series.

  16. JT - May 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Chosenone you are a fool. No team has ever come back from being down 0-3. Get your facts straight, you must be a Suns fan!!!

  17. Hatelakers - May 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    So you admit that the lakers have bought their championship rings. Do they also buy the refs?

  18. ace - May 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    stoudemire vs howard in the final

  19. LakersFan - May 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    …. and the funny part of all this is it will be the Lakers who have an ‘age advantage’ to the Suns, who might as well check into a nursing home. They make Fisher look young.

  20. Duh - May 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    I don’t think peolpe hate the Lakers. And the Lakers mostly have fans because they have been successful. Really, they are like the Steelers. Good teams…with assinine fans.

  21. Eliott - May 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Right…he probably meant 3-1.

  22. Anonymous - May 10, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    I guess your sorry team pays their players with food stamps, right? It’s sad living life with the word hate associated with your name…get a life and start actually loving something rather than hating one of the most successful franchises in sports. Still feel sorry for you. Lakers in 5 or 6

  23. LakersFan - May 10, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    … and for the idiots here who keep throwing the Kobe rape charges out there … you might want to review those court records and DNA tests. That whore had sperm from like 10 different guys in her panties, and guess what? None of it matched Kobe!!

  24. Hatelakers - May 10, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Sh*t the lakers have not even made it to the next round, you laker fans would be so embarased if the Jazz win. Maybe cry baby colby will break his pinky finger and start crying again. When colby is tough enough to play like Nash did last night, then I will call him a man, but he is still likes rapeing hookers. I could never be a fan of a team that lets someone like him on their team, it shows the quality of the laker fan.

  25. PIMPNUTS - May 10, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Kobe didn’t rape nobody but hes gonna feel like he got raped when the Suns allow him to score 30 points a game and they still lose in 6.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3728)
  2. D. Wade (3703)
  3. S. Curry (3398)
  4. C. Anthony (3218)
  5. K. Durant (3183)
  1. A. Bogut (3139)
  2. D. Rose (2873)
  3. R. Westbrook (2847)
  4. D. Williams (2825)
  5. K. Love (2628)