|Western Conference Semifinals Game 2|
|Suns 110, Spurs 102|
PHOENIX — Game 1 was the type of satisfying victory Suns fans have yearned for since the start of the Nash Era, taking their first series lead on the Spurs since Stephon Marbury’s shot banked in in 2003.
Just don’t expect the Suns to savor it for long because, you know, they have a kind of important game coming up tonight.
“I’m going to be happy for about an hour, oh, 15 minutes, and then [Tuesday] get ready to get back to business,” Channing Frye said after Game 1.
There’s no question that winning game one could set the tone for a series that the Suns hope to be different than all the rest against San Antonio this past half decade.
But that will only be the case if the Suns follow that up with an equally monumental win in Game 2 tonight against the Spurs.
If the Spurs win, then they will have gotten what they came for, the split that they needed to regain home-court advantage.
If the Suns win they will have a stranglehold on the series and we can forget about whether any curse has any bearing on this series. (Well, that is unless the Suns choke up that lead). But if history is our guide, Suns fans would be comforted to know that home teams that win the first two games in the conference semis boast a sterling 84-3 record in those series (.966 winning percentage).
“We’ve still got to hold home court in the next game,” Steve Nash said. “We haven’t really done anything yet. We did our job in Game 1, but we’ve got to have a better performance in Game 2. They’re going to come out extremely desperate in Game 2, and we’ve got to match it.”
In the Portland series, the more desperate team often won that basketball game. In that series’ Game 2, the Suns gave an inspired effort while the Blazers were content to take Game 1. The Suns should not be content with anything. They put themselves in a good spot, sure, but much of the luster will be taken off that Game 1 win if it’s not complemented by a victory in Game 2.
Just as Gentry made the genius move to switch Grant Hill onto Andre Miller between Games 1 and 2 of the Spurs series, you know both coaches will be cooking up adjustments before this battle.
Many people expect the Spurs to start Tony Parker at point guard instead of George Hill. To me it’s not such a big deal whether Parker starts or not because he still logged a hair under 36 minutes in Game 1, more than any Spur not named Tim or Manu. He will play a lot, and he will play a lot with Hill regardless.
We all know that Nash can’t guard Parker — who can? — nor can he check anybody else in San Antonio’s starting lineup if Parker starts. At the same time, as we saw in his 33-point, 10-assist Game 1 effort, not even the great George Hill can stop Nash either.
After Game 1, Grant Hill was talking about how the Suns played well but that there are some things they can improve upon. For one, their 16 turnovers were a tad high, and they can’t rely on the Spurs hitting just 4-of-19 threes (21.1 percent) every game. The Suns will also need to get more offensive production from their role players after nobody outside of the Nash-Amare-Richardson trio scored more than seven points.
On a night that will be charged by the Suns’ political statement of wearing “Los Suns” on their jerseys, the Suns have a chance to make the Spurs play catchup after the first two games in a series for the first time in the Nash Era.
This team knows that the Game 1 win doesn’t matter if they don’t also win Game 2, so their level of desperation should match that of the Spurs.
“You can’t get too excited,” Amare Stoudemire said. “They’re a team with a great pedigree that knows how to come back in a series. I think we played well on both ends, did a phenomenal job on the boards, but we’ve got to stay hungry and get ready for Game 2.”