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