It’s always a big game when the Suns and Spurs renew acquaintances, and this Christmas Day matinee will certainly be no exception.
There’s a reason this matchup was picked as part of ABC’s doubleheader along with the Celtics-Lakers showdown on a monster basketball day with five nationally televised games.
The Spurs of course are a major reason the Suns acquired Shaquille O’Neal, with management thinking the team may have been too soft inside before to combat Tim Duncan and the Spurs before. The trade also signaled a philosophical switch to be more like the Spurs in terms of being a better halfcourt – and ideally defensive – ball club.
The J-Rich trade and a subsequent speeding up of the tempo pretty much pitched that idea out the window because it wasn’t working, but the Suns still envy the Spurs and the four rings they’ve won since MJ hung them up.
Although San Antonio has bounced the Suns out of three of the past four postseasons, the Suns have actually beaten the Spurs in all three regular season meetings with Shaq aboard, including a victory in the regular season opener this season.
A win in this one guarantees at least a season split and puts the Suns in great position to win the season series. With how bunched up the West figures to be, that’s key.
More importantly, the nation’s eyes will be focused on this contest, if nothing else to warm up their television sets for Celtics-Lakers.
A resounding victory against their bitter rivals would go a long way for the Suns’ national image on Christmas Day.