Suns vs. Spurs -- Season series in review

It wouldn’t be the Western Conference playoffs if the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs didn’t find a way to collide on the hardwood. But this year it seemed far-fetched that the epic rivalry would continue, as the Mavericks were riding high into the playoffs and the Spurs were average all season long.

But as always, San Antonio turned it on when it mattered most, and the Suns finally have a shot at what they have been waiting for since 2005 — redemption. With the well-documented history and hatred between these two teams, it would be easy to analyze their all-time, head-to-head matchups.

But these aren’t the Seven Seconds or Less, Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson Suns anymore, and the Spurs aren’t the Big Shot Bob and Bad Boy Bruce Bowen Spurs anymore. With that said, here is how the 2009-2010 Suns and Spurs fared against each other this season:

Game 1: Suns win in Phoenix 116-104 on Dec. 15, 2009

If you look at the box score of this game, you can see that Amare Stoudemire had his way with the Spurs (28 points and 14 rebounds), and Steve Nash was stellar both scoring and dishing (25 points and 13 assists). But the real story of the Phoenix win was the emergence of Goran Dragic, who burst onto the NBA scene, scoring a then-career high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting (4-of-5 from distance) in only 25 minutes.

This game set the tone for Dragic’s season, as he played with confidence and helped fend off the Spurs with seven fourth-quarter points after the Suns pissed away a 20-point lead. Phoenix couldn’t slow Tim Duncan (34 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks), but the Suns held Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to a combined 6-of-19 shooting and took Game 1 of the season series in convincing fashion.

Slowing down Ginobili and Parker will be the key to the series for the Suns, and they proved that they are capable of doing exactly that in their first meeting.

Game 2: Spurs win in San Antonio 113-110 on Feb. 28

Jason Richardson was 8-of-12 with 20 points going into the final minute of action. And just when it looked like the two-time dunk contest champion was going to tie the game up with a breakaway slam with 41 ticks on the clock, J-Rich botched the gimme and the Spurs took the momentum all the way to a W.

This game will always have an asterisk next to it in the mind of the Suns. After failing to capitalize on such a big opportunity, that 99 times out of a 100 J-Rich throws down with style, it’s hard not to think “what if?” But although the Suns dropped the game late, they played San Antonio tight from the opening tip to the final buzzer, and STAT absolutely exploded for a then-season high 41 points to go along with 12 boards.

The Suns scored a ridiculous 58 points in the paint but struggled to defend San Antonio, as the Spurs shot 50.6 percent and Duncan, Ginobili and Richard Jefferson all went for 20-plus. With the history between these teams in mind, this is the type of back-and-forth battle that should be expected in almost every game this series.

Game 3: Suns win in Phoenix 112-101 on April 7.

This game was the type of performance that should make Suns fans confident heading into this series. The Suns had so much to play for with the Western Conference playoff race still undecided, and they put the clamps on Duncan and the Spurs while riding the 29-point performance from STAT.

Despite being out-rebounded by eight and allowing an absurd 20 offensive rebounds, the Suns built their lead to as much as 17 and never allowed Duncan, Ginobili or Parker to get going. When he was on the floor, Dragic did a great job on Ginobili (10 points on 5-of-14 shooting), and the Suns held Duncan to only 14 points and seven rebounds without Robin Lopez.

Parker was also a non-factor with only 10 points in 25 minutes in his second game back from a broken hand, and the Suns thoroughly dominated San Antonio from start to finish. I have a feeling that the Suns will be watching this game a lot in the next few games, as it is the perfect model of what Phoenix needs to do to take down the Spurs.

Top performers in the series

Amare Stoudemire: 32.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.67 steals, 56% from the field

Steve Nash: 20.3 points, 12.0 assists, 57.4% from the field, 50% from three

Tim Duncan: 23.0 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.33 blocks, 61.7% from the field

The next highest-scoring Spurs in the series were Parker and Jefferson at 13.7 points per game.

Suns/Spurs series schedule

Suns/Spurs series schedule

  • Neutral


    Well, good luck.

    I was actually watching how the refs cheated you guys in 2007 and feeling really bad for the suns.

    To be honest, I like majority of your team, but I can not stand Amare.

    I think the game will go to 7 and maybe this year luck will swing your way.

  • neutral

    so I’m a neutral observer – as I’m a mavs fan and couldn’t care less which team got out of this round as I don’t think either team will beat the Lakers. But I will say this, I do feel for the Suns – at least we beat the spurs the last 2 times previous to this season.
    I guess since the spurs just beat us, I wouldn’t mind seeing them lose this next series. The problem is, I don’t see them beating the spurs 4/7. The spurs have just been together for too long, have too much experience, and too much pride. I just witness them dismantling a mavs team by shear determination – because we honestly had the better team.
    And hollinger’s stats have been spot on for the past few years, and according to his stats, he has got the magic and spurs (even though i think it will be the spurs) in the finals.
    Good luck.

  • neutral

    I forgot to add – this is how I see the spurs –
    a much better portland team – better coach (in terms of experience with playoff, championship, and the suns), and players (all finally healthy)
    - The biggest advantage I see for the spurs is actually steve nash – they will exploit that match up to no ends – he won’t be guarding Bowen in the corner anymore – he’ll be picking up Parker.

  • Electromikey

    @neutral: As a Suns fan, I am of course optimistic about this series. However, I think the Suns play together much more cohesively than the Mavs did during their series, and our bench is the deepest in the league without a doubt. Our defense has really improved, so while I think it’ll be tough, I’m picking Suns in 6 or 7.

  • Electromikey

    Oh, and the Suns are no longer completely reliant on Nash, either, and that’ll go a long way.

  • asani

    Do not worry sun fans this suns team is not the suns team of old. The spurs are not that good of a defensive team like they were in years past. Nash, Stoudemire and J Rich are a hell of a lot better than Duncan, Parker and Ginobli right now.I think the suns will impose their will the first 2 games and possibly the third game. I always felt they could beat the Spurs in years past but now I know they will beat the Spurs. Tony Parker has never been able to guard Nash so regardless of what he does Nash will have a better overall game. Duncan gets embarrassed when he guards Amare so I am sure he won’t be on him. We got this this year, bring on the Lakers

  • ILoveTaint

    Suns in 5

  • Shaun

    About that April 7th game…

    Fri, Apr 2 Orlando W 112-100

    Sun, Apr 4 @ LA Lakers W 100-81

    Tue, Apr 6 @ Sacramento W 95-86

    Wed, Apr 7 @ Phoenix L 101-112

    Good luck with the Spurs on three days rest in the real season.

  • AlamoJoe

    Spurs in 6. Plays out the same as the Mavs series except Spurs take game 1 and Suns take 2

  • spursdude

    asani…are you smoking crack? how many titles do those guys hav compared to the spurs big three? also its a proven fact that your type of basketball does not win championships. i think nash is going to have a hell of time keeping up with parker and hill. spurs in 5, you guys arent as good as you used to be.

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  • Jeremiah

    Spursdude…what kind of basketball are you referring to? because the last time I checked the suns are not the “7 seconds or less” team that they used to be. As a matter of fact they have been pretty effective in slow pace games this year.

  • suns68

    I’m tired of the old “your kind of ball doesn’t win championships” song.
    Tell it to the Showtime Lakers.

  • Carmesi

    check hollingers ranking again and see where you mavericks were all season… #15. they had the smallest margin of victory in the playoffs at 1.8. So many games were determined by the last shot or went into overtime. they were the most overrated team in the playoffs and thats why a better team, the spurs, handled them so easily in a 7 series.
    You obviously just started watching basketball 2 weeks ago. Suns don’t play the same at all anymore. They gave it up when they took shaq and never looked back. pay attention, the spurs don’t play the same way they did anymore either and of the two matching up their new styles, the suns have show so far that theirs works better (winning reg season 2-1) and waving old rings means nothing in a new year espeially when you team and style changed. who are you people?
    This series will go 7 no matter who wins, because the league wants these match-ups to go 7 games to make the most money and which ever team gets a early lead in the series will be the refs biotches until it evens out. I just keep losing faith that this is a fair competition anymore and this series will prove it. (as it has proven it in the past) “TNT, we know drama” more like “NBA and TNT, we create drama”

  • Artur Mascarenhas

    I think it will be much more complicated than just comparing lineups and coaches and styles. It all will come down to matchups, who will be guarding who.

    My main concern is about who will guard Tony Parker. He killed the Mavs and we will have a hard time finding someone to keep up with him.

    I still believe Nash will be the key to the series. He gotta turn on the matador shift and make the Spurs pay for not having a Bowen-type anymore.

    The Suns will also have a good matchup for whoever R Jefferson guards (probably Grant Hill?). The guy is a complete defensive liability.

    And we will need a huge boost from the bench, specially on 3-pointers (Frye and Dudley, looking at you).

    Anyway, it feels good to be an underdog against a team we can beat. Suns in 6.

  • asani

    In years past when the Spurs defense was suppose to be so lockdown they still were not able to stop the Suns from scoring. Now the Spurs are actually not that good on defense and this suns team scores more than past teams. Our defense has improved. The Spurs don’t have any length next to Duncan so we can stack up the points in the paint. I think the suns will mix up their defense and impose their will on this team. We are clearly better than them and if Dallas never would have traded Josh Howard we would be playing the Mavs right now

  • Steve

    I was at the last Suns-Spurs game during the regular season and I have to say that the Spurs looked old and tired. Amare Stoudamire dominated in the paint and all the big name players for the Spurs were pretty much out of their element….Parker, Ginobli and even Duncan. I don’t know why, but I’ve watched the Spurs several times this season and I’m not super impressed. On the other hand, I think the Suns are in their prime right now and they are getting solid performances from lots of players, including many bench players. Admittedly, the Suns can be an emotional and streaky team, but if they can keep it together and refrain from making stupid turnovers, I predict Suns in 6.

  • BigGuy

    I don’t know why people keep bringing up the last suns-spurs game….as Shaun pointed out the spurs had just finished playing 4 games in SIX days. Obviously they were worn out…..this will not be the case in this series. Also saying the spurs don’t play D anymore may have been true throughout most of the regular season but against Dallas they held them to 92.8 pts per….9.2 pts below season avg and held them to 42.9% shooting

    With that being said this is going to be a GREAT series and I am really looking forward to it!

  • skooty

    1) Whatever we can surmise about the regular season games these 2 teams played, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. The Spurs are a veteran team with a core of players who’ve won championships and are committed to Pop’s half court style of play. They suffered some setbacks this season but managed 50 wins in a very tough Western conference. Personally, I don’t think they are as good a defensive team as they were say three or four years ago but they are still among the very best defensive teams in the league. Also, it appears to me they are playing better since maybe the final 10-15 games of the season and into the playoffs. They didn’t peak/find themselves during the “rodeo road trip” as convincingly at they have done in the past but there’s no question the Spurs of 1st round series look much better than the Spurs of midseason. 2) The Suns are not – repeat not – the 7 seconds or less team that Mike D’Antoni coached. True, they still aren’t exactly intimidating on defense, but their improvement defensively is measurable if you check the defensive team stats for the NBA over the last 2-3 years. I’ve always felt that given their high octane offensive weapons, all they needed was a little defensive commitment to hold teams in check when the shooting droughts occur – which they invariably do with the Suns. Witness how the Suns dropped a lot of games they led by as much as 20 going into the second half this season. That trend stopped by season’s end. I think they made the adjustments they needed – locking down more on defense when they don’t hit shots so their opponents have trouble catching up. So, the big unknown, right now, is who’s adjustments win out? The Spurs never really handled Stoudemire that well during the regular season. Given how well Grant Hill did on Miller in Round 1, I’d put him on whomever is hot on dribble/drive penetration. That could be Ginobli or Parker. Will Lopez be available/effective? If he can play at or near his best form this season, I’d definitely use him on Duncan. Duncan will get his cuz that’s what he does but Stoudemire in foul trouble doesn’t bode well for the suns. To win the Spurs must defend the high screen pick and roll game nearly perfectly and the Suns must close down the dribble drive game. If Richardson, Frye, Dudley, and Dragic get it going from 3 pt. land, it’s over. don’t discount the grit of Amundsen and collins who’ll have lots of hustle and lots of fouls to spend. Something else to consider: The Suns of 7 seconds or less were a one trick pony really. This team is not. In 6 games with the Blazers, they held their opponent to under 100 points five times. D’Antoni never went much deeper than 7 or 8 players come playoff time. Gentry is quite comfortable running 10 deep and letting the second 5 stay in for a lot of quality rest time. It’s still up to the Suns to prove they can overcome the old school half court proven entity of the Spurs – forget the seedings. The Spurs will bait the Suns – so don’t fall for the shenanigans (that means you stoudemire!). I predict Suns in 6.

  • Shaun

    The Suns aren’t going to suprise anyone by playing D. There are no secrets in this league, especially in the West. Length might be an issue on the boards but on the other hand, if Manu or Blair are in, all the loose balls are thiers and good luck trying to show otherwise.

    Absolutely right about RJ. Guy has no lateral quickness whatsoever. Matt Bonner is actually better on quick guards than RJ. You have to hit him from the weakside though so that Duncan has further to shift on the help.

  • Ryan

    The x factor in this series has to be george hill. If he played like he did against Dallas, the suns chances to knock off the spurs become very slim.

  • KG

    FYI… George Hill is the “Bowen-type” you guys keep referring to. Spurs are going to win the battles inside (though Amar’e will get his, like he always does against SA) and the Spurs 3 guards are playing too good right now (especially when all 3 are in together). Suns won’t have an answer. Spurs in 5.

  • The Z. Man

    Asani wins the cupie doll.

    But keep in mind that Josh played only four games after the trade and then got hurt. As to the Spurs series, the Suns were clearly the better team.

    On to the Lakers series, Suns were doing just fine in last evening's game, until Barbosa got hurt. They fell apart just after he left the game. If healthy on Sunday, Suns will need to get much more playing time out of the Brazilian Blur.

    MUST start and also finish with LB. Let's go SUNS!!!!