Well, that was certainly a different kind of Game 1 than the one the Suns played against the Blazers. In Game 1 of Round 1, the Suns came out looking like they’d already won the series and maybe just showing up would be good enough. I guess they spent too much time listening to all the “experts”–every guy on ESPN (except for Homer Abbott, of course) picked the Suns to win. This time? 8 of the 10 ESPNers asked to pick took the Spurs (Prof. Hollinger and Legler were the dissenters). I don’t know if they pay attention to any of that kind of stuff; I don’t imagine they put nearly as much stock in that stuff as we think they do sometimes.
Anyway, the Suns looked like crap when they opened against Portland. Last night? Not like crap, that’s for damn sure. The Suns (and by the Suns I mean STEVE NASH) came out ready to destroy somebody (that somebody being the Spurs). Nash scored eight of the Suns’ first 11 to force an early timeout from Pop, had 17 of the Suns’ 31 first quarter points, and assisted on three other Suns buckets. Now that’s how you start a basketball game.
It’s remarkable to look at the stats and see how similarly the teams played.
Despite the Suns’ torrid start, they regressed to the mean in the second half and only finished 6 percentage points better than the Spurs (at one point the gap was 28 %age points or something ridiculous like that). Suns had the edge (though not a huge one) on the boards, while the Spurs had more takeaways and fewer giveaways. The fouls and free throws were remarkably even. When you just look at the numbers, it really seems like it could have gone either way.
And yet…I don’t know how other people felt, but it never really felt to me like the Suns were gonna do anything but win this game. I don’t mean that in a fannish, of-course-the-Suns-were-gonna-win kind of way…just that even when the Spurs took some brief leads and got it real close in the fourth quarter, it always felt like the Suns were in control. It was a solid start to what should be a solid series.