Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Suns Steal Game 4 Win in the 4th

Suns (2) vs. Spurs (3): Suns 104, Spurs 98 (Game 4)

- Not sure I know how to process what I just saw. Spurs just don't lose games like this, and Suns rarely win games like this. Spurs were in total control of this game, and this game seemed like a formality at the end of the 3rd. But then the Spurs' offense stopped executing and started to make un-Spurs-like mistakes. It seemed like the Spurs thought this game was over, which is a mistake Pop's teams usually don't make. I mean it's hard to believe the Spurs can go from scoring 35 points on 14/21 in the 3rd quarter & in seemingly total control of the game, to only putting up 18 pts on 5/18 & looking ragged on offense in the 4th.

- Suns did a few things in this game that they are not generally not known for, and they were keys to victory. Maybe most important, they not only made the rebound battle closer, but they flipped the script and actually burned the Spurs on the boards by 10. They also got 11 offensive rebs, pretty good for one of the weakest off. reb. teams that rarely gets in double figures. Another thing that worked in the Suns' favor was they got to free throw 29 times, 15 more than the Spurs. Again, the Suns aren't known as a team that lives on the foul line.

- The defense in the 4th quarter was maybe the best I've seen from Phoenix of recent vintage. They got some big stops, rotations were good off the doubles of Duncan, and they forced some of the Spurs' costly TOs. They went from letting the Spurs getting anything they wanted in the 3rd (35 pts on 14/21) to an array of TOs and only 18 Spurs' points on 5/18 in the 4th. Also, they decided to double Duncan more often & I think it paid off down the stretch, and I expect to see more Duncan-doubling for the rest of the series.

- Just like Game 3, Amare was highly productive while he was on the floor. Thought his defense was not bad down the stretch, he rotated very well. But he still fell asleep a few times which caused him to pick up fouls. Marion had a quietly effective night with 12, 12, 2 stls & 2 blks. Inserting Kurt Thomas into the starting lineup worked out well for the Suns once again. He was left wide open in the high screen/roll consistently, and he drilled the elbow jumper constantly.

- Nash was having some tough times dealing with the Spurs' pick/roll coverage for most of the game, but Steve found some holes in the 4th to create some easy looks for his teammates. Nash was hitting his jumper thru-out (8/12) and finished with 24 & 15 assts.

- Turnovers really hurt the Spurs down the stretch. They sort of have had issues with turnovers all series--they had 20 in their Game 2 loss--and 9 TOs in the 2nd half was the only thing holding them back from extending their lead to 15-16 pts in the 3rd & early 4th quarter. Parker had 5 TOs & Duncan had 6 TOs, with each guy committing a few in the 4th.

- Thought the Spurs rushed some possessions down the stretch. Did not really understand the play for Finley to get a fadeaway. Maybe should have let Parker try to penetrate & see how the defense reacts; he had done damage all game driving. Also, having Duncan in foul trouble did not help matters, he was 5/6 in the 2nd half when on the floor.

- Duncan was not quite as dominant as he has been, but he was hampered with foul trouble and still managed 21 pts (9/14), 11, & 3 blks in only 32 mins. Parker had a pretty good nite by causing problems with his dribble penetration either finishing or setting up other Spurs. Hit some jumpers as well for 23, 7 assts & 6 rebs.

- The Spurs did not get a great production from their center position--they got a combined 5 rebs & 8 pts from their center position. Oberto was pretty solid doing hustle things, but they got little from Elson and though Horry added 5 assts & 3 blks, Bob only put up 1 reb. & 0 pts. After what seemed like a breakthrough Game 3 for Manu, he reverted back to his scuffling offensive ways by not being able to find the range on his shot (3/14 overall). Finley continued to hit some big shots, you thought some his 4th quarter 3s would be enough, but it was not to be. And the Spurs wasted a nice contribution from Brent Barry who came out active & assertive & was big in the 3rd quarter (Brent put up 12 (2/4 from 3pt)).

- Spurs did give up 32 pts in the 3rd & 4th, but as a whole I thought they did a pretty good job defensively. For most of the game, they played the pick/roll extremely well and their rotations were very good. They did help force Nash into 8 TOs, and they got the Suns off the 3pt line. But they did put the Suns on the foul line too much and they were unusually the worse team on the defensive boards.

- We'll see how the Spurs absorb this crushing loss where they had this game locked up. They are a battle-tested bunch who are very capable of winning playoffs games on the road (they did it last year vs. the Mavs). They have to regain their superiority on the boards and a lot of that responsibility falls on their center trio of Elson/Oberto/Horry (if available). Spurs need Manu to find the range on his shot quickly, maybe even more important now because the Spurs have to be prepared for more doubles coming Duncan's way.


At 12:45 AM, Blogger John said...

From what I've heard Horry, Diaw & Amare are all suspended for the next game.

I'me very concern about MANU, in 2005 he was starter and now a bench player. I hope he recovers well for the next game


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