This series is going to come down to a few key match-ups and/or factors. The first as I see it is PACE…the team that best controls the pace (i.e. plays it to their liking) is going to most likely win the series. The Suns’ pace of play works out to 4th out of 30, whereas the Spurs’ ranks 20th. While neither is good or bad, it just shows that one team plays the game a bit faster than the other.
Now, some of you might remember 2005 when the Spurs at times ran just as well as the Suns. With Tony, Manu, George, and Rage on the floor at one time or another, they might still be able to do just that, but I’m not going to count on it.
Just as in Round One, where Tim Duncan did what he could to offset Dirk’s output, I expect for him to try and do the same here with A’mare. If he can account for 50-75%, then I think the Spurs will be in good shape. I’m not expecting Stoudemire to bust out 43 point games this time around as he’s just not quite as explosive anymore, but he will ring ‘em up pretty good just the same. Keep an eye on this second key to the series.
Next we come to bench play. It appears as though the Suns have a few more cogs in their inner workings this time around, but none of them are going to kill the Spurs. Dudley will need to be accounted for, and you might be able to say the same for Frye (but I’m not going to). We’ll get to the other key bench players in a moment.
Finally, Imma gonna say that the most important match-up in this series is going to be backcourt versus backcourt. Parker, Manu, and Hill have to be able to counter and probably surpass the play of Nash, Richardson, Dragic, and Barbosa. Maybe a few minutes of Bogans on Richardson should be counted on here as well. Nash will need to play defense in this series, and if the Spurs can stretch it out, I expect to see him flail a little as the round pounds on. Both Richardson and Dragic can shoot, so chasing them off the line is going to be key to keeping them in check.
One last side bar before wrapping this up. It will be quite interesting to see who got the better of the Dragic/ Blair trade. Given the Bigs that the Suns have lined-up, I expect that Blair just might have a better outing than he did in Round One, which in my mind will put the Spurs up on the Suns (once again).
As much as I’ve said about Pace above, ultimately basketball comes down to match-ups and I think that the Spurs match-up exceedingly well with the Suns, and if they can play like we all know they are capable of then I expect for the Spurs to be sitting pretty in the WCF.