Spurs-Suns: Game One Tonight
Well, here we go again. It’s time for another showdown with another rival – this time the Phoenix Suns. The Suns (54-28) have home-court in the series, but that means nothing to the Spurs who dismantled Dallas’s team in six games. The Suns shouldn’t be any more difficult to beat than those pesky Mavericks. Let’s look at who we’re facing.
Point Guards: Steve Nash vs George Hill/Tony Parker
Steve Nash is a two-time MVP and hasn’t really lost a step since winning those back-to-back trophies. He’s still a great passer, can nail a timely three-pointer at any moment of any game, and is the heart and soul of the Phoenix Suns. He is also still a horrible defender. I don’t think we can count on Hill slowing him down a whole lot, but we can count on Nash not being able to slow Hill or Parker. Hill will probably continue to start with Parker coming off the bench. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Nash gets the edge in this matchup.
Nash: 16.5 ppg, 11 apg, 3 rbg
Hill: 12.4 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.6 rpg
Parker: 16 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.4 rpg
Shooting Guards: Jason Richardson vs Manu Ginobili
This is the matchup that could prove to make the most difference in the series. So Ginobili goes, so the Spurs go. Ditto for J-Rich. The thing is, the Suns need Richardson to show up every game if they want to win. The Spurs can survive a bad night from Manu a lot more easily. Manu’s passing and defense give him a slight edge in this matchup.
Richardson: 15.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.8 apg
Ginobili: 16.5 ppg, 3.8 apg, 4.9 apg
Small Forwards: Grant Hill vs Richard Jefferson
Grant Hill is not as likely to dunk on people the way RJ does, but he is at least his equal in most other ways. While Jefferson has a little more explosiveness, Hill is a better passer and rebounder. Either can knock down an open jumper – and they will get their opportunities since they aren’t focal points of their offenses. To me, this matchup is pretty even.
Hill: 11.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.4 apg
Jefferson: 12.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2 apg
Power Forwards: Amare Stoudemire vs Tim Duncan
Stoudemire is the one guy on the Suns that you almost have to try and shut down. Good luck with that. He is near unstoppable when the Suns are running the way they want to, and is a decent free-throw shooter (75.8% career)so there is no point in hacking him late in games. For Duncan, the test will be to get Amar’e in foul trouble, and/or keep him off the glass. Duncan is a better rebounder and defensive player, so this matchup can go either way. I’ll call it even.
Stoudemire: 23.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1 bpg
Duncan: 17.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg
Centers: Jarron Collins/Channing Frye vs Antonio McDyess
Frye plays more like a swingman than a center, popping threes like a madman and grabbing 4-6 rebounds a game. I don’t know how effective he will be in a half-court game. Jarron Collins is not much to talk about anyway, but they start him so we have to acknowledge him. McDyess can hit that mid-range jumper all day and in the slower game, that’s going to be huge. I still can’t give the edge to anyone here because none of these guys are going to consistently outplay the other.
Collins: 1 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Frye: 11.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg
McDyess:5.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg
Spurs: Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Keith Bogans, Roger Mason
Suns: Channing Frye, Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa, Goran Dragic, Louis Amundson
Tony Parker is going to have far more impact than Frye. Blair is going to be useful in spurts, as will Matt Bonner. Bogans will be only called on for defense purposes, so hopefully he is ready. Mason may or may not get any burn – I wouldn’t count on it too much. The Spurs can’t sleep on Dudley, Barbosa or Dragic as any of them could go off if given too much room.
Alvin Gentry is doing ok so far, but Popovich has been to the promised land a few times and gets the edge here no question.
Also, I would to take a moment to point out that I am perfect so far in my playoff predictions. Uh huh, yeah. That’s right.