Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Spurs Decide To Clinch At Home

Today in Phoenix, the Suns got out early and often, building a 22 point lead at the half. They did it with activity and aggressive-
ness on the defensive end, as both Shaquille O'Neal and the previously defense-free Amare Stoudamire were physical and involved.

On the offensive end, they got a lot out of the previously MIA Raja Bell, and even some utility out of Boris Diaw, who was really the best player on the floor today. By the midway point of the third quarter, the Suns were up 30, and even the Suns defense isn't porous enough to give that back.

And... where the hell was this in the first three games, when this still could have been a series?

Kudos to the Suns for finally putting Grant Hill out of their misery, and for letting Diaw -- the only Sun with a chance in hell of staying in front of Tony Parker -- take a bigger role. If the Frenchman can play this way on the road (and of course he can't), the series could still go long.

As for the Spurs, you got the feeling that they were throwing this game for some reason. Michael Finley tried to defend Amare Stoudamire one on one. They didn't run the pick and roll that has absolutely murdered Phoenix all series. They spent a good part of the first half trying to get Robert Horry involved. They never ran a press, and didn't even flop or complain with their usual vehemence. The third quarter saw a lot of Jacques Vaughn and Ime Udoka. They didn't even Hack Shaq very much... and if there was ever a game in which Shaq should have punished a guy for doing that, it was today.

I'm pretty sure I even saw Tim Duncan accept that he fouled a guy today (along with sit most of the second half). The Spurs had no interest in winning this game; the only question is whether or not the Suns decide this defense thing is worth trying again, and if the refs continue to give them the benefit of most of the whistles. I'm not saying the game was fixed, but Tony Parker was smacked in the face twice today for no calls... and I posted this at the end of the third quarter. That's how done this game was, and how much the Spurs mailed this one in.

Oh, and big ups to ABC/ESPN for having their fingers on the pulse of the culture, with musical interludes from Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. Well done, Mouse Minions.

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