PHOENIX —got another good report from his doctor today but he was not activated for Game 1 of the Phoenix Suns’ Western Conference semifinal series against the San Antonio Spurs.
“He’s making progress, he’s still making progress,” said Suns head coach Alvin Gentry. “He’s cleared, and the whole thing with the conditioning, just the banging and things like that, we’ve got to just take it a step at a time. I think when he feels like he can play and contribute then I think he’ll be the first to tell us because I think he’s anxious to play, but I think we’ve also got to be real smart about this, too.”
Instead the Suns stuck with their usual starting lineup by starting Jarron Collins. It’s still anybody’s guess when or if Lopez will return to the Suns, but a good report is never bad news.
Here are a couple other items Gentry tackled in his pre-game chat with reporters:
On his biggest concerns in the series: “We’ll try to do a good job on Tim. He’s a guy whose always caused a lot of problems for us. Obviously with Manu’s penetration, that’s a huge factor. He’s probably played as well as anybody, he’s probably played as well as he’s played. So those two things, and then we’ve got to rebound the ball. We’ve got to try to do a good job on the offensive boards. They’re really a long team, and they’ve got a defense, too. Those are really the main concerns.”
On if the Suns are playing with house money: “I’m not sure what the house money thing is. We’re in a playoff series against San Antonio with a chance to go to the Western Conference Finals. I don’t know what house money is. To me it’s a challenge that our guys look forward to. We know we’re playing a great team, we know that they’re an experienced team, we know that they’ve won four championships in the last 11 years. That’s pretty impressive, so it’s a monumental task, but I think we’ve played ourselves into a position where we’re the third seed and have home-court advantage, you’ve got to try to take advantage of that and then see what happens. But we’re not satisfied with being here.
“We’d like to be thinking that however long these series take, six months from now or however long they go, we’ll have a chance to play in the Western Conference Finals. We’re not happy just being here, so anybody who thinks that you can erase that from your thought process right away. We’re not happy just being here. Our guys thought all along that if we played well and played to the level that we were capable of playing that we thought we would be one of the strongest teams in the West. We did a good job of being in a situation where we have home-court advantage, and now we have to try to take advantage of it.”
On Phoenix’s keys to winning: “You’ve got to shoot the ball well, you’ve got to rebound well and you’ve got to limit turnovers.
The Suns and Spurs are meeting in the playoffs for the 10th time in the last 19 years dating back to 1992. No other opponents have met more than seven times. The Suns are 3-6 in those nine previous series, but they have lost four in a row and six of seven. … The Suns are 4-5 in those nine Game 1s, having never won a series against San Antonio after losing Game 1. … The Suns have not won three straight playoff games since May 4-8, 2006, when they beat the Lakers twice to clinch a first-round series win before defeating the Clippers in Game 1 of their next series. … The team that wins Game 1 has won 78.3 percent of playoff series all-time, although West teams that lost Game 1 went 3-1 in the first round, with only the Lakers winning Game 1 and holding on for the series victory. … The Suns’ bench is averaging 34.7 points per game in the playoffs, including 43.7 ppg at home. Four bench guys have gone for a double-figure game.