One of the things that we (and by we I mean me–no wait, I mean all y’all too) talked about before this series was pace. We asked questions like “How will the pace of games affect this series?” and “Will the Suns be able to exert their will on the Blazers and force them to play at their pace?” and “Will the Suns fall apart in the playoffs as they have traditionally (and by traditionally I mean over the last several years–excluding last year when the didn’t even make the playoffs) because they royally struggle with the slower pace of playoff games?”
Well, I think that we can answer those three questions at this point:
- It won’t.
- No, but it doesn’t matter.
- No, because this is a very different Suns team.
That’s right; the pace has not mattered in this series at all. Game 1 had the fastest pace of any of the 5 games–91.2–which is slightly above the Blazers’ season average, which is to say right in their wheelhouse. In fact, the pace of play has, as a rule, slowed over the course of this series. Here are the five numbers for this series (with the winner of each game):
- 91.2 (PDX)
- 86.3 (PHX)
- 86.8 (PHX)
- 85.9 (PDX)
- 82.2 (PHX–and that’s right, EIGHTY-TWO-POINT-TWO. Now that’s slow as HELL.)
Seriously, that is a downward trend. But how have the Suns bucked their history to go ahead and win three of those five games? Well, they’ve avoided getting flustered and letting the game bother them, number one (except in their losses), and they’ve been efficient as all get-out. Here are the Suns Offensive Efficiency numbers for the first five games (OffEff refers to the number of points a team scores per 100 possessions–the Suns were first in the league this year at 112.7; the Blazers were 7th at 108.0, and the league average was around 105).
- 137.9 (!)
- 130.2 (!)
Ok, Games 2 and 5 are completely absurd. That is ridiculous efficiency for the Suns. That means they’re shooting at a very high percentage and scoring the ball inside…exactly like they need to. So I guess the story of tonights game is not the pace of the game, but how well the Suns are shooting and getting to the line. If they play a game like 2 or 5, it just don’t matter what the Blazers do. Play like you mean it, Suns.