Thursday, April 17, 2008

NBA Playoff Preview: Spurs vs Suns

San Antonio Phoenix Advantage
PG Tony Parker Steve Nash Parker should exploit Nash's defense, but Nash will more than make up for it with his scoring and passing Suns
SG Michael Finley Raja Bell While both are mostly used as spot-up shooters on offense, Bell is also a lock-down defender Suns
SF Bruce Bowen Grant Hill Hill is much more dangerous on offense than Bowen and he gives the Suns another perimeter defender Suns
PF Fabricio Oberto Amare Stoudemire The Spurs will send a number of different players to attempt to slow down Stoudemire. Good luck Suns
C Tim Duncan Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal will make Duncan work a little harder on offense, but Duncan is the best player in this series Spurs
Bench Manu Ginobili Leandro Barbosa Ginobili and Barbosa each provide excellent scoring off the bench, but Ginobili's been significantly better Spurs
Coach Gregg Popovich Mike D'Antoni D'Antoni has done an excellent job of working O'Neal into the lineup,but Popovich has four rings Spurs

The Spurs-Suns series was the best of last year's playoffs, though it was marred by the Game 6 suspensions. It should be another incredible showdown this year and it will be the ultimate test for the Shaq trade. O'Neal was brought in to help the Suns handle the Spurs, more than any other opponent and he should give them an edge. His defense on Duncan will be critical, but the mere fact that Stoudemire won't have to guard Duncan will leave Amare with a lot more energy to take over on offense. Gregg Popovich will have some difficult decisions to make regarding how he covers Stoudemire, but the bigger issue will be San Antonio's offense. O'Neal should slow down Duncan, at least a little, and Grant Hill and Raja Bell should combine to make Manu Ginobili work extremely hard for every shot. It's hard to see the Spurs scoring enough to keep pace.

Suns in 6