Playoff Game Day Preview: Spurs vs. Suns Game 1

2010 NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS — Semi Final Round
(3) PHOENIX SUNS vs. (7) SAN ANTONIO SPURS

TEAM LEADERS

Points Rebounds Assists
SPURS Manu Ginobili 19.0 Tim Duncan 9.5 Tony Parker 5.7
SUNS Jason Richardson 23.5 Grant Hill 8.3 Steve Nash 9.8

During their last two playoff encounters, the San Antonio Spurs have defeated the Phoenix Suns; in 2007 on their to way to their fourth championship and in 2008 when Tim Duncan made an improbable 3-pointer in the first game of that series.

However, these are not the same teams that met before, the Spurs now have Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair and George Hill. While the Suns also improved their lineup by adding Jason Richardson and Channing Frye after missing the playoffs last year.

The Suns won the season series over the Spurs 2-1. Richardson had a surprising first round series leading the Phoenix Suns in scoring averaging 23.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in six games. He also shot 52.7% from the field and 51.2% from 3-point range.

On the other hand, the Spurs found out that they have another play-maker in George Hill. Hill had a solid first round series against the Mavs averaging 14.3 points as the Spurs’ starting point guard.
This should be an interesting matchup, the Suns are a run-and-gun team while the Spurs has preached defense as their foundation that has won four championship for them.

KEYS TO THE GAME


SPURS
On Offense: If the Spurs have an advantage in this series, it is the center position. Tim Duncan will be a handful for the likes of Jarron Collins or Channing Frye. Amare Stoudemire could be a viable option but he could be in foul trouble guarding Duncan. So the Spurs should try get the job done on their halfcourt sets where Duncan can dominate the opposition and slow down the pace of the game.

On Defense:
Just the same, as Duncan creates matchup problems for the Suns; Stoudemire is the main player to watch on a Suns lineup that plays at a quicker pace. Whether Antonio McDyess is up for another great challenge in defending a player like Amare remains to be seen. The Spurs should also be wary of the Suns’ outside shooters and their up tempo game.


SUNS

On Offense: The Suns must try to dictate the pace and run against the “older” Spurs. Their perimeter shooting will be a key component on their offense.

On Defense:
Besides Duncan, can the Suns contain Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker or George Hill? Tony Parker is a matchup nightmare for Steve Nash and Manu Ginobili, when he is on; can light up the scoreboard. Grant Hill will probably defend Manu and Jefferson on some cases. But George Hill could be the X-factor of this series. It will be key for the Suns to can limit the Spurs’ inside points and the clog passing lines inside the paint.


PREDICTION


The Suns have homecourt advantage, but that was the case the last time these teams met in the playoffs. Both teams are “well rested” and should do their best to draw first blood. Given the Suns impressive series win over Portland, this will be a close one but the Spurs will be able to steal Game 1 in Arizona, 102-99.
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