Tag:Suns v Lakers
Posted on: May 17, 2010 8:34 pm
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Suns v Lakers WCF Breakdown

Here I thought the outcome of the game was decided on the court.

I have spent the better part of the last week reading from Lakers fans about how the “experts” saying the Suns have a shot in their Western Conference Finals matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers is a joke.

I have seen such in depth analysis from Lakers fans as:

We are taller, we have Kobe Bryant, and we are the Lakers.

That is all well and good, and all of those are, well points, but none of them ring true to the essence of a basketball game.

The Lakers have demonstrated throughout the regular season, and at times in the playoffs that they are, without a doubt, the most talented team in the NBA.  They have the second best player on the entire planet in Kobe Bryant, Lakers fans Lebron is still the most talented player in the league, he just plays on a team full of garbage, but that is another rant for another day. They possess players that can also be effective when Mr. Bryant is not; Pau Gasol, and Andrew “Glass Man” Bynum.  They have role players that thrive in their given roles; Ron Artest on defense, Lamar Odom offs the bench.  They have veteran leadership that allows for them not to get fazed or flustered in the face of adversity; Derek Fisher, Kobe, and of course Phil Jackson.

Looking at that information, you would think the NBA Finals would be without question in their future, many Lakers fans believe this series to be nothing more than a pit stop on their way to another championship showdown.

Well, I have news for Lakers fans, as well as NBA fans everywhere:

THIS IS NOT THE 2005-2007 SUNS! 

They don’t have Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion fighting over alpha dog status.

They don’t have to worry about Marion’s inability to create his own shot, ask Lebron about that with Antawn Jamison.

They don’t have Mike D’Antoni playing six or seven players only and never having a care about defense.

No, this Suns team is a team that has had the best record in the Western Conference since the All-Star break.  This is a Suns team who plays with a sense of urgency and purpose that truly has not been seen by Suns fans since the 93’ season.

Are the Suns a dominating defensive team, hell no.  Can they get stops in crunch time situations, yes. Therein lays the difference between the aforementioned Suns teams and this current version.  They are more efficient on offense, and play defense with a sense of urgency.

Anyways, on to what this is really about, a breakdown of the matchups so I can have it on record when the Suns win this series in 6 that I predicted as such.  Trust me, I will be around for the crow if they get beat in 4 or 5 games.

PG’s - I have seen it written in many of places that Steve Nash gives up on the defensive end just as much as he gets on the offensive end.  While that may be true against PG’s such as Tony Parker, Deron Williams and Chris Paul, Derek Fisher is none of those guys. 

Fisher is a shell of his former self, but can still do a couple of things well for the Lakers.

1.    He can still hit the open shot when given the opportunity.
2.    He knows the triangle like the back of his hand.

For the Suns to have a shot Steve Nash needs to cut off all clean Fisher looks from behind the arc and make him put the ball on the floor. Fish has been hesitant to do that all season long, and if he does, the Lakers are not getting the open three’s they need to keep the defense honest.

Advantage: Suns

SG’s - Kobe Bryant is the best player on the floor for either side no question about it.  The intriguing part becomes, does Jason Richardson continue to play well enough to keep this match up close.

Richardson has been shooting lights out in the playoffs, and finally resembles the player that is earning $13+ million a year in salary.

Can he keep his ppg over 20 in this series to keep the advantage from being too great in Bryant’s favor? 

As much as Suns/Lakers fans want to fawn over their own players, both sides need to understand the importance of this matchup.    If Richardson is not effective offensively, that means the Suns are not as efficient as they need to be, and when that happens, well, we get results like games 1 and 4 against the Trail Blazers.

On the flip side, if the Suns are able to goad Kobe Bryant into reverting back to gunner mode, the Suns will have won the battle, no matter what the box scores say.  Kobe Bryant taking over 22 shots a game is a good thing for the Suns and is one of the keys to a Suns victory.

Advantage: Lakers

SF’s - Here is where it gets interesting. Lakers fans like to think that because Ron Artest is younger and has a reputation as a good defender he has an advantage over Grant Hill.

I couldn’t disagree more, and neither could the stats:

Hill- PER: 14.2 Defensive rating: 104
Artest- PER: 10 Defensive Rating: 110

So who is having the better playoffs?

Oh but wait, the excuse for Lakers fans is that Grant Hill didn’t have tough defensive assignments while Ron Artest had to defend Kevin Durant.  So that means that his PER is 4 points lower while his defensive rating is 6 points higher?

Now, unlike Lakers fans, I can take off my homer glasses and see that Ron Artest cannot be discounted, the way Grant Hill has been, so I would call this a slight advantage Suns, but going in I will say.

Advantage: tie

PF’s - The most important players on both sides of the ledger entering this playoff series.  Pau Gasol has to continue to be a 1a type option for the Lakers for them to succeed.  When Pau is engaged and effective, the Lakers are nearly unbeatable. He has all the tools necessary to be a dominant player, and when given the chance this post season, he has been.

On the flip side, we have the enigma known as Amar’e Stoudemire.  Can Amar’e keep himself in check and continue to rebound and defend the way he did in the Spurs series?  Will he continue to work his offense out through the flow of the game, as opposed to forcing it like he did in the Blazers series?

Talent wise this is a toss-up, but through these playoffs Pau has been more effective and efficient, so I give the Lakers the advantage here.

Advantage: Lakers

C’s - Glass Man v Robin Lopez is our last look through the starters.  And basically this matchup is a wash for the simple fact we don’t know what we will get from either player.  If Bynum is healthy and ready to play, which from all accounts I have read he is not then he gets the nod here.  But if he continues to be ineffective like he was in games 3 and 4 against the Jazz, this pairing becomes a wash until we see how Lopez is feeling.

I will give an ever so slight lean to the Lakers in this matchup, but I would not be shocked if a healthy Robin Lopez is more effective than an often injured Andrew Bynum.

Advantage: Slight Lakers

Bench :  This has to be my favorite part of this series.  I have read numerous takes from the Lakers side about how this will be the series where the Lakers bench becomes involved and engaged again.

My question is, why?  Why would the Lakers bench, that has been dreadful all season long, all of a sudden bust out against what is thought of by many to be the best bench in the NBA?

The Suns have a decided advantage here, and they use it to push waves at teams.  The Suns bench is a collection of players that use not only their skill, but use their energy to overwhelm many teams.  This bench is what most teams would want in a bench.  They come in, give the starters 5-6 mins of game time off, and do it while playing nasty, physical ball and leaving it all out on the floor.

The Suns biggest advantage in the playoffs so far has been the play of their bench, and I see that trend continuing against the Lakers.

Advantage: Suns

Coaching - This is clearly a matchup of one of the greats vs a guy that is finally getting an opportunity to work with a good team.  To say that Phil Jackson has the advantage would be an understatement, but to act as though Alvin Gentry will cost his team games is ludicrous.

Advantage : Lakers

Overall, this series will have everything you could want.  It has two of the best perimeter players in the NBA today in Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant.

It has the makings of being a classic, with two of the more skilled big men in the league in Amar’e Stoudemire and Pau Gasol.

Are the Lakers the club with superior talent?  Of course they are, but that talent pool is much shallower than the depth the Suns possess.

The Lakers are the big brother the Suns have never been able to beat when it matters.  And every time the Suns think they are moving ahead, the Lakers seem to race right by.

Well, one man thinks this is the year the Suns slay the beast, but maybe my homer goggles are just blinding me.
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 2, 2009 1:37 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2009 1:38 pm
 

View from the Top

So I was lucky enough to get to go to the LA Lakers vs Phoenix Suns game on Sunday. My buddy got us some tickets and we went to enjoy a great game between two hate rivals. I have been fortunate enough to go to 3 Suns v Lakers games the last 3 years, but this was the first time I have got to see both Pau Gasol and Shaquille O'Neal in person. As we parked and walked into the game, we both realized that a lot has changed in the last couple of seasons, and the Lakers bandwagon has filled up again, with fans who know little to nothing about the sport of basketball.

I have been fortunate enough to have many dealings with real Lakers fans the past couple of months, and you can tell the real fans vs the bandwagon hoppers. As we approached the seats, in true bandwagon fashion the Lakers fans were outside already running their mouths. Let me take a break to get on my soapbox. As many of my friends are aware, I am a huge fan of trash talking. I think it gets the fans involved more into the games and gives you even more reason to want your team to win, because really, who wants to hear Lakers fans gloat about their team sweeping my team. All of that being said, there is a time and a place for trash talking, and at a major sporting event, where women and children are present is not the place. There are outlets like message boards, bars, and between friends, but not at major sporting events. I honestly do not care what you say in front of your kids at home, you can use all the four letter words you want, but when you are in public, that is not the place to be dropping f bombs and calling every move that Kobe does the $&!%. Don't expose children that are not your vulgarities. Ok, sorry about the rant.

So we get to our seats, and the stadium is fuller than it has been recently in the Suns schedule, but there are still open seats, and my only guess is those are bought by Lakers fans who, like most LA sports fans, have trouble telling time on their digital watches, and show up after the first time out has already occurred. Now the fact that they are carrying beer would leave me to believe that they were just waiting in line at the concession stand, but from the smell of them, it was more likely they were downing another 3 or 4 beers before they got into the game.

That is enough for now about the Lakers fans; let's talk about the game itself. With the starters on the floor and everybody ready to go we were treated to a game that has embodied this rivalry over the last 5 years now. Fast paced action, and some hardnosed play, that would ultimately lead to a satisfactory day. As we progressed through each quarter, one of the things I enjoy doing is watching things that you don't get to see on TV, meaning the off the ball stuff, players interactions during timeouts and stoppage in play, and mostly temper tantrums that are thrown by star players. As the game was moving along, it became evident to me, as a long time watcher of the NBA, that today was a day for Kobe Bryant the gunner to come back and replace Kobe Bryant the winner. Now, I have no problem with star players taking over the game at all, MJ did it, Bird did it, Magic did it, and Kobe has done it. That being said, there was something much different, and much more Kobe circa 2004-2007 about it. As the Suns began to pull away in the 2<sup>nd</sup> quarter and take a 10 point lead going into the half, I was very interested in the demeanor of Bryant. He began to get a little more firm with his on court coaching, and a little bit more demonstrative with his show of displeasure about what was going on. I leaned over to my buddy and told him, "Kobe will come out gunning in the 2<sup>nd</sup> half, because he doesn't think the offense is being run through him quite enough." He laughed and we were entertained by the atrocious American Idol castoff that I had to ask the wife about to even get a grasp of where he came from.

As the second half was about to commence, I noticed a couple of things:

  1. The Suns and the Lakers have the worst hair in the NBA. I mean seriously, between Gasol, Sasha Vujacic, Josh Powell and Adam Morrison for the Lakers, and Robin Lopez, Lou Amundson, Jared Dudley and Alando Tucker ( just because Kanye cuts his hair like that does not mean in looks good) for the Suns, there can be some serious work done.  

     

  2. Lakers fans please buy a new jersey. Seriously, Kobe changed his number what, 3 years ago, I know that you have gotten at least 1 stimulus check in that time, and the jerseys only run like $100 Bucks. I implore you, if your team is fortunate enough to make it to the NBA finals again don't show up pimping your 8 jersey. Do all real Laker fans a solid and buy a new jersey.
  3. The way to tell a bandwagon Lakers fan vs a real Lakers is simple, if they think that Kobe Bryant is the best player in Lakers history, they are bandwagon fans. Seriously, I hate the Lakers, but I respect the history of the second greatest franchise in NBA history and remember the greatness of the players before Kobe "Allegedly" Bryant came along.

So we were off in the second half, and Kobe went off for 17 of the Lakers points in a 19-2 Lakers run and my buddy leaned over and just said "Nice call," I answered back simply, "This is just the beginning." Man was I ever right, Kobe became well Kobe and started just bringing the ball down and launching jumpers, 3 pointers, driving wildly to the basket, and basically doing everything that he had done for the 3 years before the Lakers blindsided the Grizzlies. Not only that, his teammates became invisible and reluctant to step up and make plays because he had his angry face on.

I started to feel bad for his teammates and then I realized that even after we would win this game, we would still be 13.5 games back and that I hope the Lakers implode and we get another rant on how big of a baby Andrew Bynum is and how he wants to be traded. The Suns while winning should have blown out the Lakers. Seriously, how do you miss 16 free throws as a team? How do you shoot 6-18 from 3 point range? I don't know, but if the Suns want to make the playoffs, this needs to be fixed ASAP, or they will be staying home for the first time in the second era of Steve Nash.

I had a lot of fun at the game, but as a diehard Suns fan, I can't rest on this win, because we are still out of the playoffs, but this win does give all Suns fans hope that they can make a run into the playoffs and maybe, just maybe make some noise in the playoffs. Is it wishful thinking… maybe, but so was the Arizona Cardinals ever making the Super Bowl.

 

 

 

Category: NBA
Posted on: March 2, 2009 1:28 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2009 1:34 pm
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