Here we go. The Suns have a chance to solidify their playoff positioning while making a statement against an old nemesis in a potential first round series preview. Hopefully the Suns won't have a hard time getting up for this one...
When: 6:30 PM local time (8:30 ET)
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Watch/Listen: FSNAZ / KTAR 620AM 98.7FM
Gregg Popovich is a hell of a coach.
He has finished with a winning percentage equal to or better than .610 (which correspondss to a 50-32 record) in all seventeen seasons he has shared with Timmy Timster. His overall regular season record is 965-441 (.686), which means he will reach 1,000 about halfway through next season. He has hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy four times.
Despite all of this Pop has only won the NBA Coach of the Year award twice in his illustrious career. For a second I almost thought it might have something to do with his curt, brusque nature, but then I discovered Phil Jackson only managed to win it once. All he had to do was set an NBA record for wins with 72 to get it.
But Don Nelson has three. How stupid is that award?
The inscrutable Pop will have another chance to his show off his basketball psychology tonight when he trots out some melange of players that may or may not consist of most of his regular rotation. I mean, really, would you be surprised to see any combination of Parker, Duncan and Manu "The Sneak" play or not play?
Tim Duncan is a hell of a player.
It seems exceedingly absurd to me that at 37, fresh on the heels of being named All-NBA first team last season, Duncan is still mirroring his career production.
His career per36 numbers are 20.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 blocks.
His 2013/14 per36 numbers are 18.7 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.4 blocks.
Talk about a declivitous descent.
Keeping on the Timmy theme, what kind of NBA fan am I that I had to be reminded he is fondly referred to as Death and Taxes? Are there any other nicknames for Pop that I don't know about/can't remember? Damn CRS. I kind of think that maybe he could borrow the Death part from his all-everything big man. Tell me that Pop couldn't pull off the Grim Reaper Halloween costume. But maybe Taxes isn't enough left over... Would Tim-scendent serve as a placeholder?
For a while I thought that the Spurs were kind of like White Goodman from Globo Gym, running around with the mantra of, "Here in San Antonio, We're better than you! And we know it!"
But as I
get older mature it occurs to me that it might have just as much to do with my pesky inferiority complex, which I just know I could get over if I wasn't so worthless, as it does with any grandstanding, condescending behavior from that franchise. They are just a paragon of NBA excellence.
Professional sports excellence in general. In an era of disposable coaches and players with wanderlust chasing after gr$$ner pastures this type of relationship just doesn't exist anymore. Today's sports landscape is dominated by ADD and dollar signs.
Having a hall of fame coach and a hall of fame player (and I'm talking about the really good part of the hall) on the same team for 17 seasons while winning four championships (and counting)... is the quintessence of a love affair between a fan base and its team. It is THE sports dream. If only we could change the colors from silver and black to orange and purple...
I was going to write something glowing about the Spurs starting point guard, but I am currently running a smear campaign against all Tony's that aren't A) Tigers, B) Members of Mob Families or C) The Boss. Also, Parker's real name is William. I guess Bill doesn't sound quite as French.
Positive twist time. If Parker plays tonight there is a chance that he might aggravate his back injury and possibly make him less effective in a first round playoff series AND it would send an even better message when we smoke them with a full complement of players. If he doesn't play the Suns can take advantage of an opportunity to throttle them again like the last meeting in Phoenix (106-85). Then again, maybe it doesn't even matter in the Spurs system of "next man up" ball.
It didn't last night when the Spurs did the Suns a solid by beating the Dallas Mavericks to propel Phoenix into sole possession of 7th place in the Western Conference standings. There's a plethora
of pinatas of other reading material on BSotS about possible playoff scenarios so I won't delve too deep into the minutia, but I'm still leaning towards the scenario where the Suns just win out (possibly moving up to the sixth seed).
Although the Spurs recently had their 19 game win streak snapped, a streak that started a game after they were pasted by the Suns, they are still winners of 14 straight at home. Combine that with the fact that the Suns have lost eight of their last nine at the AT&T Center and tonight's contest seems rather daunting.
But the Suns aren't the same team that dropped seven of those eight away games. The Suns are actually doing their own version of streaking and have won 11 of their last 14. The team is finishing strong.
Phoenix is now 19-0 in games where Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe both score at least 16 points. Considering their season averages are 20.5 and 17.6 points per game, respectively, as long as these two play at least averagish the Suns are absolutely unbeatable. Which is good. The Suns are also 21-6 in the last 27 games Bledsoe has played.
Tonight is the perfect opportunity to put a sound ass whipping on the Spurs and let them know the purple and orange gang is salivating at the prospect of knocking them on their storybook ass in the first round of the playoffs. The pantsing Goran gave them in the 2010 playoffs will look like warm up stretching before the savage beating they are in store for.
The Suns already held their own against their other two possible playoff matchups in recent outings, so it's looking like no matter what Phoenix fans should be in for an entertaining series.
The Thunder and Suns seem pretty maladroit at guarding each other so that promises to be a track meet with a nice subplot of Russell Westbrook and several Suns butting heads while the Clippers and Suns just flat out don't seem to like each other very much. These vibes of on court animosity are actually kind of cool in a league where all the players are besties off the court. Not as many seething hatred rivalries these days.
I'm pretty much conceding the Suns a playoff spot now, inviting the you know what fairy, but so be it. The players share the burden of blindly focusing on the task at hand, which leaves me in the position to do all the looking ahead I can handle. And to be quite frank, I really want the Spurs. After the times they crushed our dreams I would take a smug satisfaction in brooming them out of the playoffs for the second time in the swan song of Timmy's career.
When he looks back at the end of his playing days I want playoff losses against Phoenix to rise prominently to the forefront. Of course that's just me.
In order to ramp up some fervor in anticipation of tonight's game and my hopeful playoff scenario I've included a couple of tidbits from the last time the Suns and Spurs played truly meaningful games. Since tonight's contest seems pretty playoffsy.
The Spurs take care of Dallas while the Warriors get Mosgov'd.
In the comments of yesterday's playoff report an exchange with Nate_Sun86 led me to prepare a breakdown of all scenarios where the Suns went 2-1 over their next 3 and also 1-2 over their next 3. One of the assumptions I made in those scenarios was that Dallas would defeat San Antonio last night. So I threw it on the ground. Because I'm an adult and not a part of your system I had almost a fully flushed out word document with the new scenarios which took into account the Dallas loss - then Golden State lost to the Nuggets.
That loss brought all sorts of other tiebreaker scenarios to the forefront and broke my brain entirely. But since I'm nice - here's roughly where we are tiebreaker wise:
If any of that is wrong feel free to correct me - I'm sitting in a staff meeting at the moment.
Thursday April 10th Key Western Conference Results:
San Antonio Spurs 109 Dallas Mavericks 100 (Recap) - Tony Parker didn't play for the Spurs but it didn't matter. Hell Patty Mills took 25 shots and only scored 26 points and it still didn't matter (although it helped he shot 6/11 from three). The Spurs are really good at winning games. Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 24 points and you're not reading this part so I'm just going to go into a shopping list - I need cereal and milk. I like cereals with cartoon mascots on the box.
Denver Nuggets 100 Golden State Warriors 99 (Recap) - I'll admit I barely even bothered to watch this game because I thought the Full Squad would take care of business. The Nuggets trailed this game by as many as 12 in the 3rd quarter but the heavenly ascension of Timofey Mosgov (23 points and 29 - yes 29 - rebounds) allowed them to keep it close. It looked like Golden State was going to survive when Steph Curry hit a floater with 5 seconds left but Denver got the ball into Kenneth Faried who hit a shot in the lane to take the game. Steph Curry led Golden State with 24 points and Klay Thompson added 21.
Golden State is still the favorite to finish with the 6 seed in the West but they finish with 3 of their last 4 games on the road (@Lakers, @Blazers, v. Minnesota, @Denver). Mark Jackson - the door is ajar.
Current Western Conference Standings:
|2. Oklahoma City
|3. LA Clippers
|4. Houston||52||26||.667||8.5||6-4||LOST 1|
|6. Golden State
Friday April 11th Western Conference Games of Significance:
Suns @ Spurs - At this point of the morning we don't really even know who's going to play for either team. Coro reported that Dragic is questionable with an ankle injury (roughly his 10 millionth) while other reports suggest both Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are going to sit out tonight. Parker has sat the last two games while Duncan suffered a bit of a knee scare in the 1st half last night but still played 39 minutes. I don't think there's any shame in saying we have no clue what's going to happen tonight, so I'll say Spurs by 10.
76ers @ Grizzlies - I hear a lot of you say things like "anything can happen any night in the NBA" and "they're all NBA players" - but when your team has won 2 games since February started I don't think any of that applies. The Sixers are bad and they should feel bad. Memphis will win this game by 73. Need a morning laugh? Go check out the Philly roster.
Warriors @ Lakers - Won't some other playoff contender sleepwalk through a game with a bad Lakers team and take a horrible loss? If so I'd really appreciate it. The odds are against Golden State suffering a second consecutive bad loss but at least the Lakers are sort of an NBA team - unlike Philly.