More photos » Chris Carlson - AP
5 days ago: After being hit in the nose by Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, left, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, second from right, is escorted down the floor by forward Amare Stoudemire as guard Jason Richardson reacts during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals Sunday, May 23, 2010, in Phoenix. Phoenix won 118-109. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
What can I tell you in this preview that you have not already read? What can I tell you about Amare's almost too late come back in Game 3 that you have not already seen? What can I tell you about the stupidity of stats when the Lakers get 20 and 20 from Bryant and Gasol but still lose? What more is there to say about wanting to donate a bucket to Channing Frye? What can I say about this game that you yourself have not already said? What, my friend, what?
Let me first begin by telling you that this will not be the last Suns game preview you will read this season, and that's something no one knew when I accepted this weighty assignment three days ago.
In both the literal and the figurative, and even in the hyperbolically literal, this game is deep in the cut, deep in the marrow of everything this series will mean across the collective consciousness of the NBA.
Literally, the injuries continue to mount in a blood toll and tonight the ante will be upped. From black eyes to bloody noses, it's not just Nash getting the stitches. Then there's Bynum's knee, loaded with all kinds of unnatural chemicals to drain the pain. Tonight's game will be even more physical.
Here's how you get the Lakers. They pull a elbow, you pull a clothesline. The Lakers sends one of yours to the trainer, you send one of his to the hospital! That's the NBA way, and that's how you get the the Finals!
There's no such thing as a hard foul tonight. Not because that's how we like it, but because that's how the NBA likes it.
Figuratively, this game is deep in the track, the rhythm of the series, all the ebbs and flows of players and the wax and wane of strategic adjustments. Will girlie zone and bully ball reunite in victory tonight? Will Nash amp up his shot? Will the Suns get Channing a few layups to start the game? Who will play tight? Who will let it all out on the court? Will the Lakers break through in Phoenix?
Finally, in the hyperbolically literal, this game is deep in the crux of the series. 3-1 against the Lakers means this series is literally, no, figuratively, no wait, hyperbolically-literally done. That fourth and final Lakers win, like death, may be delayed, but never averted.
On the other hand, a win for the Suns here does more than re-achieve parity in an accelerated "Best of 3" series. For the Suns to win, it will mean that the girlie zone was more than a gimmick. It means that the Suns weapons are armed. It means bully ball wasn't just a one-time surprise attack. It means the Lakers do not have all the answers. It means the Suns have not yet shown their best.
Take advice from the Phil Jackson, Lord of the Rings:
"The only thing there is is the Phoenix series," Jackson said. "If we don't just stay focused on that, there's nothing else. You have to play immediately for this series and forget about whatever else is down the road."
Wasn't this the guy watching tape of the Magic-Celtics series??
I ask you, dear reader, to get off your ass and do something special today about this game. Don't just go watch this game. Don't just meet your friends at the bar and cheer at the flat screen over a pint. Do that, but do something extraordinary before that.
What can you do? you ask, you sorry ordinary citizen of Phoenix. Let me tell you what you can do. You can start by taking this game personally. You can start by saying this game is about more than 94 feet of hardwood. You can start by realizing this game is not won in the 48 minutes of regulation, but in the 95 games and the 10 months of play that has brought these two teams here today. In that span, the accumulation of years of practice and insignificant daily choices (Blimpies or Schlotsky's?) come together on this day. You can admit to yourself that sport is not what a few millionaire players do for you, but about what mobilizes and unites a city to do in the name of self-determination.
By way of example, let me tell you a story about one such city united in self-determination. Do you know how Phoenix became the capital of Arizona?
It so happens that the choice was hotly debated in the 1889 15th Arizona Territorial Legislature -
The first issue dealt with by the session was a proposal for the relocation of the territorial capital.
To ensure passage of the proposal, the Maricopa County delegation made arrangements with a prostitute called Kissin' Jenny to delay a Yavapai County delegate on the day of the vote. The targeted delegate was one of her regular customers. He was also a vain man and the only person in the territory to own a glass eye. The night before the vote he visited Kissin' Jenny's boudoir. At the end of the evening he placed his glass eye into a glass of water and went to sleep. Some time during the night Kissin' Jenny became thirsty and drank the entire contents of the glass. In the morning the delegate discovered his eye was missing and refused to go out into public.
His political allies came searching for him and upon finding him learned that Kissin' Jenny was either unable or unwilling to return the eye.
The whole evolution the State of Arizona, the reason we root for the Phoenix Suns and not the Tucson Wildcats, was decided not by a vote in session, but by the spectacular play of involved citizens who got off their asses, thought creatively about the situation and then embarked on giving the home team the advantage.
So again, I say to you: What can you do to tilt the tables in the Suns favor? Do you know where the Lakers are staying? If you see Ron Artest running around downtown in his undies, are you gonna point and laugh at goofy Artest or are you gonna pick up the phone and call in to the police about a naked immigrant mad man with no ID on the loose? If you're the cop that gets that call, are you going to "recognize" Artest or haul him and his tightie whities down to Tent City?
Is a Laker player stopping by your bar for a drink? Pour them a triple shot. On the house. Call over those escort neighbors of yours. How many different ways could ICY HOT get into the Lakers clothes? Do you know when their game buses will pick them up? Are you one of their bus drivers? How many cars downtown would it take to jam up traffic all the way to the Arena?
There's a few hours today before the game. There's plenty of time to throw a few Lakers players off their game with some crazy, never-before-seen hi-jinks.
You get me? You feel my inflammatory language all up in your brow?
Now I know some of y'all will call me unsportsmanlike or a sports terrorista. Aw horsepucky. This ain't the time for basketball purists. Sit on yo ass and make mad bloggery like me if that's all you got. But, you know the game is rigged and you know it ain't rigged in your favor. Tilt that muthafuckin table right back on the pandering media, the NBA marketing jockeys and David Stern himself for wanting another Lakers-Celtics rematch.
Think about what I'm saying - Some games are won on the court, but the games that matter are won on the court of life.
If that means to you staying pure and yielding the right of way to the Lakers' bus en route to the Arena, fine, good on ya.
If that means cutting that sonovabitch bus off and slamming your breaks just for the hell of it, then pick me up on the way.
Comments are for some safe, sane and at least marginally legal ideas to mess up the Lakers even before they get to the Arena. Think unethical or annoying. I prefer annoying. Think outside the box, what you got?
More photos » Winslow Townson - AP
D-Howard is not ready for summer (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, Pool)
Good morning, sunshines. As you have probably already discovered, I don't really plan the content of these intros in advance, so you typically get some sort of mash-up of my random thoughts combined with whatever 80s pop culture reference happens to be swirling around in my brain at the time. Then again, if you're reading this column you're probably either (a) related to me or (b) one of my 9 devoted fans (there have to be 9 ... right?). So instead of coming up with something new, I'll mention the following: I really need a haircut (dude just lay off, work has been REALLY busy) and the other day I spent about 15 minutes looking for an appropriate Mr. Belvedere YouTube clip to share with all of you (I got bored with it). Those are two facts that prove the age old adage -- you get what you pay for.
The game preview post is scheduled for 7AM (Arizona time) so you can look forward to that -- and no, I am not posting this at 4AM. I am never up at 4AM.
Monday May 24th Playoff Results:
Orlando Magicians 96 Boston Celtics 92 (Recap): Hey someone informed Orlando that the Eastern Conference Finals started! How about that. With their season on the line, the Magicians jumped out to a 10 point second quarter lead and looked to at least have quite a bit more fight than they had Saturday night. Boston rallied and carried a one point advantage into the fourth quarter, but a free throw barrage from Orlando had the Magic up 7 points with only 2:24 left to play. Yet, the Celts rallied again behind 5 late points from Paul Pierce and a very contested three pointer from Ray Allen to help push the game into overtime. In the overtime period, it took until the 2:42 mark for the first basket and fortunately for the basketball lives of Orlando fans, it occurred in the form of a banked three point attempt from point guard Jameer Nelson. Suddenly feeling a heat wave coming on, Nelson drilled a three on the next possession to give the Magic a late 6 point lead. Not to be outdone, Allen stroked a couple more threes down the stretch to keep Boston tight, but a combination of horrific offensive execution and an inability to stop Dwight Howard proved to be the undoing for the Celtics as the Magic grabbed their first game in the series. For those of you who watched the game (or saw the highlights), the complete lack of urgency shown on the final Boston possession -- where they trailed by 4 with 9 seconds left -- was almost laughable as their lone attempt at the basket was a desperation three by Big Baby Davis. Zoinks.
Following a 7 point, 7 rebound performance in Game 3, Dwight Howard answered the bell in a very Amar'e-like fashion by going for 32 points and 16 rebounds and basically single-handedly taking on the entire Boston front-line throughout the evening. Orlando was also aided by 23 from Nelson, who hit two of his three triples in the overtime period. Rashard Lewis still wasn't all that great, but he was above his previously putrid Game 1-3 versions (13 points, 2/3 from three). One of the bigger story lines for Orlando was the way Stan Van Gundy sat the cold as ice Vince Carter (1/9 from the field) in favor of J.J. Redick for periods down the stretch. Probably worth noting that Redick had the highest +/- rating for either team, with a +14. Boston got 32 and 11 from Paul Pierce, along with 22 from Ray Allen and 14/12 from Kevin Garnett.
This series now shifts back to Orlando for Game 5 and you've got to think the pressure shifts with it. Everyone talks about how the Magic have to win 4 straight to win the series -- well that isn't the case anymore, they just have to win 3 ... and 2 of them are at home. Could get interesting.
Conference Finals Series Standings:
Tuesday May 25th Playoff Game:
Game 4: Lakers @ Suns: Alright Suns, you guys already ensured that the Lakers wouldn't be sweeping their way into the Finals. Next step: tying up the series. Everyone is going to need to bring their A game. Fun side note (depending on who you are): if the Suns win either tonight or Game 5 (aka forcing a Game 6), I will be skipping a wedding in Sedona (that I committed to months ago) to attend the game. Am I awful or committed? Discuss. It's not like I'm in the wedding.
90's NBA Flavor -Harold "Baby Jordan" Miner - you've just got to love that. Especially in nearly 10 minute form.
We are holding a big bash!
Hope you can make it. It will be awesome!
Hey Sports Fans!
Still thinking about that last game? Already looking forward to next year's draft? Can't believe your team just did that--again? Well, we've got just what you need: the inaugural SB Nation Phoenix Meet-up!
Please join your friends from SB Nation and your fellow Phoenix sports fans for an evening of good company, great sports conversation and free stuff!
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
6:00 - 8:00 PM
Majerle's Sports Grill (downtown location)
24 North 2nd St. Phoenix, AZ 85004
Food and drink discounts, giveaways and great raffle prizes!