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Friday, April 18, 2008

2008 NBA Playoff Preview Come On Up for The Rising

Posted by Eboy

written by Eboy

So.... Here we are. One of the marquee matchups of NBA playoff basketball, appearing right before our eyes, in a first round matchup? Damn. Suns vs Spurs. A dream matchup, maybe trumped only by the possibility of a Suns vs. Lakers matchup in a later round. The Spurs...the steady rock of a team, boring in it’s efficiency and deadly in it’s results. On the flip side, The Suns....the past masters of wide open basketball, free wheeling and fun loving, the team’s image has changed ever so slightly. a much different way. They’ve supposedly been molded to have the horses to beat the Spurs and as I will show you, they will. And as I have predicted since The Big Trade, the Suns will move into Western Conference greatness and maybe even be the representative in the NBA Finals. It’s good being insightful.

Alright, let’s get down to it.




Shaquille O’Neal
Amare Stoudemire
Brian Skinner

Tim Duncan
Kurt Thomas
Fabrico Oberto

Well, theoretically this is how the matchup should play out, but in actuality, the cross matches of Oberto on O’Neal, Duncan on O’Neal, O’Neal on Duncan, Stoudemire on Duncan, etc. kind of negates it, but there really is a decided advantage for the Suns. Since the Shaq trade, an amazing thing has happened. Amare has been the best PF in the league, bar none, and Shaq has probably played the best ball of any Western Conference center over the last two months and has played his role better than anyone could have imagined. Don’t think that Shaq’s presence hasn’t made it possible for STAT’s resurgence and if he continues to play at that level, ANY team going against the Suns will have their hands full. Kurt Thomas helps tremendously in this mix for the Spurs with his veteran leadership and toughness, but somewhere along the line, the weardown factor will come into play from the continued pounding that Shaq and STAT will put out. Sure, Shaq’s going to have foul trouble for a game or two and will look terrible in stretches, but if he’s done nothing else in his new uniform is that he is STILL capable of being game changing and game plan altering, for moments at a time. Of course The Robot will have a good series, probably in the 18 & 10 range, but after the season of indifference the Spurs have played in, Tim’s programming may be off just enough to give the Suns the nod here. Oberto will need to be mega productive in his minutes to give Tim and Kurt some rest and use his fouls wisely. Brian Skinner really just needs to keep his beard tight. Advantage- Suns



Grant Hill
Raja Bell
Boris Diaw

Manu Ginobili
Brent Barry
Michael Finley
Robert Horry ?

This is a great matchup between such an opposite group of talented guys. By appearance Grant Hill and Michael Finley are similar. Dudes long in the league, talented, at one time uber athletic and both are fundamentally sound. Finley’s three shooting is better, Hill’s passing trumps Fin’s. It can be a wash but it won’t be boring. Two good guys in the game, playing for the ultimate goal. Michael got his ring last year, so Grant’s best chance at one won’t go overlooked by him and the potential for a classic battle between the two is there. Brent Barry needs to come up big in this series since it seems like Big Shot Bob may not be around. His three point shooting will be huge if he’s on and can keep the Suns D unbalanced so that Shaq and STAT can’t just sit back and wait on the cutting Ginobili and Parker. Raja Bell and Boris Diaw will bring some toughness to the Suns and may be just enough to cause Manu Ginobili either a big headache or a growth spurt to his bald spot. Doubtful though. As always, Manu is the wild card. Can be an 8 point afterthought or a 35 point death dealer. He should be rugged throughout, but between Shaq, STAT and Diaw, his flop quotent should be at an all-time high. Regardless, Bell’s shooting and Diaw’s inside play should be enough to maybe not cancel out Manu’s greatness but at least lessen the blow. Advantage- Even


Steve Nash
Leandro Barbosa
Gordan Giricek
DJ Strawberry

Tony Parker
Bruce Bowen
Jacque Vaughn
Damon Stoudamire

Another interesting set of matchups headed most certainly by the two best international point guards ever in the history of the NBA game. I’m not even going to go into great detail about them. Nash and Parker will cancel each other out. Mark it down. 18/12, 20/11 something along those lines. Both great, both will do what is needed to push their teams, both can’t play D. Gotta love it. The villan of the series as he always is, is Bruce Bowen. Great perimeter D, well placed elbows, stray kangaroo kicks, perfectly executed foot placement for opposing player ankle rolls. Class to a fault. He’ll have a role in this series. Give it time. The first chest to chest confrontation will come from one of his actions. Guaranteed. Barbosa will be the “fastest man in recorded history” throughout the series and Giricek and Strawberry will see limited action that has to be productive in order to make the Suns system flow. On the Spurs side, Vaughn and Stoudamire will need to be steady, move the ball and hit jumpers. The jumpers fall more on Damon’s shoulders and the move for him is either going to be really successful or a complete bust. No pressure little man. Advantage- Spurs


* I didn’t really feel like writing about coaches. Pop is the better in-game manager. Plain and simple.

Mike D’Antoni

Greg Popovich Advantage- Spurs


This is where I think the Suns have the advantage, in spades. Shaq’s move was a masterstroke by Steve Kerr. It just had to play out right. Fortunately for him and Suns fans it has. And this is where Shaq’s presence will be needed the most. No longer can the Suns lane be “enter willingly without chance of contact.” Shaq has taken up the mantle of planting a clown that comes in instead of playing with his arms up. It’s a dangerous proposition for the opposition (that’s some Flavor Flav shit right there) and with STAT on the thuggish tip as well (see Garnett, Kevin) the Suns finally can play like men. Sure the Spurs have seen it all, can match it all and will counter all, but I think finally, FINALLY, the Suns get over the San Antonio hump and begin their rise to Western Conference supremacy. For all the talk of the Laker's path to greatness after their trade and the Suns "slip" after their's, remember the Lakers had the cake schedule at the end of the season while the Suns had their's early on. Let’s just use this analogy. If a 70% Shaq (yeah, I said it) plays with an all-world PF and PG, can he find a way to be as effective as he was playing with one all-world shooting guard on three different occasions? Bet your ass. Or a few dollars, whichever you prefer.

My pick:
Suns in 7.


Sabonis15 said...

I just want Steve to win a ring. My fragile Canadian nationalism needs it (even if he was born in South Africa).