[Note by Mike Lisboa, 05/11/10 7:52 AM PDT ]
A special note for Laker fans (and whatever other fans take advantage of our hospitality): Don't "take advantage" of our hospitality. This is first and foremost a PHOENIX SUNS blog. We are here to discuss the PHOENIX SUNS. If you've had a little too much of the Purple and Orange and think we need a little more Laker Pride... well, we don't. That's what Silver Screen and Roll is for. We'll play plenty nice as long as you don't grind your feet on our couch. Cool? Cool.
As someone who has by and large taken a sabbatical from the main page and dwells largely in the comments, the level and tone of conversation there is something that is near and dear to my heart, just like lil' Goran Dragic. As such, I'd like to take a moment to try and delineate the difference between opposing fans, trolls and the really not-so-fine line separating the two.
The playoffs are contentious times for fans of both the Suns (whom no one seems to believe in) and their opponents (whom everyone seems to believe in). Things can get out of hand quickly.
Everyone rallies around their teams and believes -- has to believe, in fact -- that their team is the best and is destined to go all the way.
No one wants to hear about his or her team's weaknesses.
No one wants to hear about his or her team's shortcomings.
No one wants to hear about his or her team's cleverly (or not so cleverly) derogatory nicknames.
Except, all of those things exist and there's no avoiding them due to the blog cross-pollination that the intense focus and fandom of the playoffs breeds. Things get heated. Guidelines vary from site to site. As we saw, The Trailblazer Insurgency was the unfortunate and unintended consequence of an ill-advised invitation to trash talk. I'd like to think we've learned from that and grown as the very special human beings that we all are. But as examples like that demonstrate, the line between civil and uncivil blurs, distorts and disappears entirely if you don't keep your head about you.
Allow me to re-draw that line for you.
* Contrary to popular belief, opposing fans are welcome at Bright Side of the Sun.
* Opposing fans are likely to disagree with you, me, Seth and anyone else affiliated with this site. This does not make them trolls.
* Opposing fans should be given the same respect and treatment as fellow Bright Siders. Just because they're Lakers fan does not make them an automatic target for your vitriol.
* When you attack someone simply for being an opposing fan, you are managing the rare and completely un-awesome feat of trolling your own site. Mad anti-props. You've just made everyone else who calls BSOTS home look like an unconscionable douche.
* Just as not all opposing fans are trolls, not all of them are fine upstanding netizens with their papers in order (this is an Arizona sports site after all). Some of them are trolls.
* Unless your name is on the masthead (or you're a ghost editor like me and a couple others), trolls aren't so much your problem. We read the comments. We make the call. We act accordingly.
* When you bait and flame trolls, you make things worse and invite the banhammer upon yourself. You know that old saying, "Never argue with an idiot... the people watching might not know the difference?" Totally applies here. If you want to dress down a troll, do it cleverly and without resorting to tired cliches about Faker fans, LA shallowness, and Kobe's troubles in Colorado, or whatever other lame jokes about whatever team the Suns are facing apply. (Seriously, as an LA resident, that shallow stuff hurts.) Or, do the smart thing, let one of the mods know and watch the poster and comments disappear with a quickness.
* None of this is to say you can't run whatever smack you want about that team in this house. That, in part, is what BSOTS provides a forum for. What good is a playoff series if you can't mock your opponent? Feel free to let loose on the team or its players. Just not the good and respectful fans that choose to join the conversation here.
* Keep the mocking at home. When you go to another team's blog solely to talk trash, be smug, rub their noses in it or otherwise engage in decidedly uncivil discourse, you're on your own. They will ban you, it will be swift and you will have gained nothing (besides, you know, that whole thing about making the rest of this community look like unconscionable douches. Good on you, sir or madam.) And you will almost certainly be called out or banned on this site. That's just how we roll.
And in case you're wondering, none of these guidelines are new. Check the "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" link on the left side of the main page. It's all there. Now, get out there and spread the Suns love (with intelligence, humor and respect, of course)!
The Suns are going to need productive minutes from Robin Lopez to combat the Lakers size. (Photo by Max Simbron)
We will have PLENTY of time to talk about this series and break down the details, but here's some initial thoughts on the match-ups and an early prediction.
If you thought Suns-Spurs was David vs Goliath, you ain't seen nothing yet. The Lakers have more playoff and championship experience than any other team in the league. Kobe Bryant has logged 7,220 playoff minutes compared to 7,548 for Nash, Hill, Richardson and Stoudemire combined. Phil Jackson has 10 rings. Alvin Gentry has 10 fingers.
These guys know how to win in the postseason and they are rounding into form after a poor showing to end the season. They will be heavily favored by all the experts, but that just plays into the Suns' hands, who thrive on being the underdog.
The Lakers are a team dominated by one player, surrounded by a couple of other great players. The Suns are a true team.
This will be a battle of star power vs. team power.
Size versus depth
We are going to hear a lot about the Lakers' size in the next week and rightly so. When you have Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, you are going to have issues. The Lakers play through the post, where they will force double teams and find cutters. Their offense is perfectly geared towards their roster. Guys who can pass the ball and make plays.
Defensively, the Lakers have improved dramatically over the years. They rebound and control the paint as well as any team in the league and with Kobe and Artest, they can lock down key perimeter guys, as well.
The Suns get it done with depth and this will be the biggest key. Once again, the game plan has to be 48 minutes of high energy pressure on both ends of the floor that wears down a Lakers team that basically goes 7 deep. They ask for and get big minutes from Kobe and Gasol and they need them.
The Suns will need to exploit that by working harder and playing faster.
Kenny Smith made this point on TNT last night:
Smith on the Suns' line-up not being able to match-up with the line-up of the Lakers:
"Their best line up on the floor has (Jared) Dudley, Jason Richardson and Grant Hill on the floor at the same time. You cannot play those three guys together against the Los Angeles Lakers with (Andrew) Bynum, (Pau) Gasol and (Lamar) Odom plus Kobe Bryant. (The Suns') best line-up can't play against (the Lakers') line-up, so I want to see what kind of magic (Suns coach) Alvin Gentry pulls out. Maybe if Channing Frye steps up, that's their only hope."
This is a great point and a big reason why I was so optimistic against the Spurs. They were forced to play small, which allowed the Suns to use its best lineup. Frye will need to play consistently well in the paint on the defensive end. He needs to box out Pau and play solid post defense. That is asking a lot from a 6'11" shooting guard as some people consider him.
It all comes down to Robin being able to play 20 solid minutes so Frye can be more energetic and more aggressive when he comes in. Lou is undersized against the Lakers. This will be a tough match-up for him and I don't think the Suns can win by playing small ball except when only one of their three bigs is on the floor, which doesn't happen often.
I underestimated the Suns by picking them to need 7 games to beat the Spurs. The Lakers are a better team. Kobe won't let his team lose without a fight and Fisher, Odom and Artest are certainly capable of big games as they showed in beating the Jazz in Game 3.
Defensively, this will be a much different series. Instead of stopping dribble penetration and pick and roll, the key will be rotating out of double teams and not losing track of cutters.
Offensively, the Suns should be able to run a bit more and will need those easy buckets, because in the half court the Lakers are tough. The Suns have to take advantage of their strong side zone and reverse the ball and hit open shots. Fortunately, the Suns do that very well. Much better than the Jazz.
Suns in 6
I am without words. Certainly, I have no words that haven't already been spoken again and again.
To SWEEP the Spurs and win games by going ugly ... This team is incredible and they just keep getting better. The perimeter defense. The effort. The clutch shooting. The chemistry.
Past Suns teams were run and fun, free-wheeling high octane. This team finds joy in hard work, discipline, execution and ultimately winning no matter what the circumstance. Incredible.
The Suns not only were the more talented team, the deeper team, the smarter team, but they were the more resilient and tougher team, as well. In my mind, there's no higher compliment to the coaching staff, front office and team leaders.
You have to do more than "want to win". You have to deliver through adversity and the Suns did that in this series and the Spurs did not. That more than anything is the biggest role reversal from years past.
Let the celebration begin! ... but not too much because the job isn't over. The Mission is NOT Accomplished. The Lakers are waiting and the underdogs will have to rise up one more time to get over that monster hump.
2010 NBA Playoffs: NBA Conference Finals and NBA Finals schedule - ESPN
Game 1 of the WCF won't start until Sunday, May 16th at the soonest. Could be as late as Wednesday, May 18th.
Nash, Amar'e see playoff success eye to eye | NBA - Yahoo! Sports
Amar’e Stoudemire(notes) announced he wanted to address the team. Stoudemire talked about the Suns’ past struggles against the Spurs. He implored his teammates to play hard, to never let up. He said they needed to stay sharp, and then, for emphasis, Stoudemire prattled off a list of mistakes his teammates had made in past games, including a blown dunk by Jason Richardson(notes) from the Suns’ only loss to the Spurs this season. Stoudemire never singled himself out for blame, and by the end of his impassioned speech many of the Suns were rolling their eyes. Nearly all of them were thinking the same thing: What was that?
NBA.com: Suns' old injuries not nearly as painful after Game 4 win
Lying on the training table getting six quickie stitches under his right eyebrow and feeling his eye swell shut, a thought crept into Steve Nash's head. "You've got to be [blanking] kidding me."