Some Excuses

Sat Apr 26, 2008
  • The first game was a cosmic fluke. Duncan misses that shot 95 times out of 100, perhaps more.

  • Grant Hill’s been injured.

  • Nash had the flu, and looked as if he were sick, hurt, or just old last night.

  • The NBA has a strong interest in seeing big-market teams like San Antonio and Detroit make the finals, for Q-scores and advertising.

It hasn’t been as much of a blowout as it seems, in all fairness. It really was a fluke that the Spurs won game one. The Suns were solidly in control for the first half of the second game, and then played one of the worst third quarters I’ve ever seen. (You have to credit the Spurs defense here, of course.) Last night, they were beaten from start-to-finish. It could easily be 2-1 either way, but it’s not.

Part of the problem here is simply that D’Antoni is not a good strategist. I believe his offensive tactics are strong in game situations, but it has been exceedingly foolish not to incorporate Skinner and even Linton Johnson and Strawberry into the rotation at points. Why not let either of them try to guard Parker off the pick-and-roll, when it’s obvious that no one else is capable of it? (Jeff Van Gundy dismissed these complaints last night by referring to Piatkowski, as if he were the only option.) Why not hack Thomas (58% FT) and Oberto (61%) ? At least once or twice? Popovich called a timeout last night just to cuss Oberto for missing a defensive rotation, with his team up by double digits. Phoenix would run out of timeouts within minutes if they tried this, of course, but it’s a little sickening for a fan to see the team so out-coached.

I suppose the Free Darkoist line on this would attribute the Suns’ difficulties to the baleful half-Popovichian measures adopted by new GM Steve Kerr, who has disturbed the metaphysical balance of the team through the Marion trade (and much else). To be conventional, I think it’s likely that the Spurs are going to sweep them now, as I can’t see how the Suns could sustain morale after what’s happened; but, to be somewhat bold, I think there’s a chance for the first NBA ‘04 if they can win Sunday. (I won’t suggest an analogy to the Lakers series a couple of years ago, when they were down 3-1, as that’s not what I’m talking about. It has more to do with something I mentioned in a bullet point.)