The West’s marquee match up for this second round is now even bigger because the Mavs are out of the playoffs (feels kinda weird, doesn’t it?). This is a series that features perhaps the two best teams left in the playoffs, and pits the league’s best grind it out defense against its most efficient up tempo offense. As I talked about when discussing their first round match up with Denver, San-Antonio’s biggest strength is their ability to masterfully control the tempo of a game. Consider the fact that, during the regular season, Phoenix averaged 12 points less than normal against the Spurs. On the individual side, the Spurs defenders have taken most of Phoenix’s big guns off their game. Nash shot 30% from behind the arc against Tony Parker and whatever help the Spurs gave him, a 15% decrease from his season average. Shawn Marion struggles as well, with his FG% dropping to a ghastly 37%. The other member of the Suns big three, Stoudemire, is well recognized for having big games against San Antonio, especially during their last series in 2005 in which he blew up for over 35 a game. People are putting that stat all over the place, neglecting to point out that that series was never competitive. What happens is that when San Antonio slows the game down, the Phoenix offense becomes a pick and roll or two man game with Nash and Stoudemire. So Soudemire gets more touches against the Spurs, but that’s exactly what San Antonio wants. San Antonio is not perfect, this will not be a sweep, though I don’t think it will be so competitive either. Look for San Antonio to steal one on the road early, defend their home court, and pull it out in six.
San Antonio in 6
EDIT: Looking over old posts, I realize that I had first picked the Spurs to win in five. The only reason why I changed it was because to do so would require San Antonio to win two games, including an elimination game five, on the road. I think its more likely they drop two in Phoenix, but take care of business in Texas to send the Suns packing