3. Phoenix (54-28) vs. 7. Spurs (50-32)
Game 1 Tipped About 45 minutes ago
Has any team ever defeated the top three seeds en route to the NBA finals? Research monkeys, go!
The Suns and Spurs revive an old rivalry. Manu Ginobili already has a bandage on his nose, so that sets the mood. This rivalry is a bit more fun because the five most critical players have remained constant. Nash and Stoudemire vs. Parker, Ginobili and Duncan. It's less fun without Bowen doing something absolutely revolting and YouTube worthy, but this is still fun.
This has been billed as a battle of competing paces, and that is true to some degree. It has also been billed as an offense vs. defense matchup; also somewhat true. That said, San Antonio doesn't play at a particularly slow pace, and they were ninth in both defensive and offensive efficiency.
Don't let the 50-32 record fool you. The Spurs have been playing some of the best ball in the league over the last several weeks, while keeping their big three fresh. Plus, you have to assume that Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess are going to start clicking with this bunch at some point. If that point is, say, over the next ten days, the Spurs are a legitimate threat to win the championship.
You know what the Suns do. A Ferrari on offense, unspectacular (though underrated) on defense. Steve Nash works with largely interchangeable parts (except for Stoudemire, though you could replace him with any 20 and 9 guy in the last 25 years and get the same result) and his team is more fun to watch than to root for.
Player to watch: Jefferson. He was never an all-star, but he's better than he showed this season. It's hard to find your niche as a 4th option, especially from the wing, but he has shown signs of getting the hang of it. That said, Jason Richardson went absolutely ballistic in round one. If he does that again, show's over.
Prediction: Spurs in 7. San Antonio had a slight edge in margin of victory, and I don't see home court advantage being a huge factor, especially given the teams' mutual familiarity. And, yeah, Richardson isn't hitting four three-pointers per game again.