Game 3 preview: Suns at Spurs

Western Conference Semifinals Game 3
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Suns 110, Spurs 96

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only 6.1 percent of NBA teams that have gone down 2-0 in a best-of-seven series have come back to win. That’s 14 of 228 times. However, since the second round of the 2004 playoffs, 12.7 percent of teams in a 2-0 hole have come back to win (7 of 55). The last team to do it? That’s right, the San Antonio Spurs in 2008.

With that in mind, the Suns cannot take Game 3 lightly. The Spurs are probably the last team that will let a 2-0 deficit get under its skin.

“They’re not going anywhere,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said after practice Thursday. “They will not go quietly in the night. We understand that going down there. It will not be easy.”

Before we look at keys to this game, here’s a fact you may not want to know (I say this for the sake of everyone not getting too confident with this lead): The last two times the Suns held a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals, they lost in seven games (1994 and 1995).

Keys to the game

Focus

The environment in the AT&T Center is going to be incredible. The Spurs have planned a white out and the team’s fans can’t be happy with a 2-0 deficit.

“That place is extremely loud, which is great,” Suns forward Amare Stoudemire said. “We feed off the opposing team’s crowd.”

The Suns’ focus throughout the playoffs has been nothing short of amazing. It’s totally clear that everyone is on the same page. Everyone knows what the goal is and how to get it done. With a 2-0 lead, the Suns can’t get comfortable. They did it a few times during the regular season and haven’t had the chance to during the playoffs. The Suns have to treat this game like its an elimination game — like they should every playoff game.

“The atmosphere’s totally, totally amped up,” Stoudemire said. “They’re going to be ready to play. We’ve got to make sure we’re hungry.”

Defense

After playing some impressive ‘D’ in Game 1, the Suns took a step backward in Game 2. The Spurs were able to negate the Suns’ defensive efforts for much of the game, and that’s a problem because now they’ll be looking to exploit that.

If the Spurs can figure out how to capitalize on their ability to beat the Suns’ defense, this series could be tied up quickly. The Suns will need to bolster their defensive plan and continue to limit Tim Duncan. They did it in Game 1, and they need to do it again.

“These guys are starting to take pride in their defense,” Gentry said. “They were really disappointed that San Antonio shot what they shot the other night.”

Point guards

Steve Nash is clearly winning the point guard battle in this series. His 33-point, 10-assist performance in Game 1 was the difference maker, and the 19 points and six assists in Game 2 were a big part of the Suns’ team win. Just what you expect from a two-time MVP.

However, it’s a little more telling that the Spurs starter George Hill is struggling. If the Spurs stick with Hill, it gives the Suns a chance to jump ahead early. If Hill is struggling, the team may not be able to find a rhythm.

Tony Parker, however, has played very well, and the Spurs’ fate rests heavily on his performance. The same goes for the Suns and Nash, but not quite as much.

Tags: Phoenix Suns Playoffs San Antonio Spurs Suns Game Preview

  • Kyle Fleeger

    Disclaimer: This post will be presented by a COMPLETE SUNS HOMER tonight.

    YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (Billy Idol’s Mony Mony is playing in the background of my mind!!!)

    The Phoenix Suns have a 3-0 lead on the Spurs.

    Second Disclaimer: If the Suns are the first team in NBA history to lose after being up 3-0 I am going to ruin everything I love.

    … back to Loving MY SUNS!

    WOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

    Tonight, the Phoenix Suns played in what I will easily refer to as “MY FAVORITE SUNS WIN” Ever!

    The Suns were down for at least 75% of the game. And the Star of tonight’s game was:…

    GORAN “PUFF THE MAGIC” DRAGIC!!!!!!!

    I am going to get there in some semblance of order.

    Quarters 1-3:

    1. The officiating was terrible.

    1st quarter: Suns committed Six fouls: Spurs committed ONE!

    2nd Quarter: Suns committed Six fouls: Spurs committed Six fouls

    Okay… So um… maybe I am not a complete HOMER… But a Homer none the less.

    3rd Quarter: Suns committed FIVE FOULS: Spurs committed Two Fouls

    Okay… So I am going to end the whining here. Channing Frye was called for a completely non-sensical Flagrant two while the ESPN announcers sounded dumbfounded saying, “Umm that’s a close one, maybe a flagrant one”

    Wow guys, way to call it like you see it.

    That’s all for the whining.

    OH MY GOD THE PHOENIX SUNS HAVE A 3-0 on the SPURS!!!!!

    In the fourth quarter, here is what happened, and trust me, I am skipping to the good part….

    The Suns start the fourth down 72-71 but that is the beginning of the end for the Spurs…….

    When GORAN DRAGIC WON THE SUNS THE GAME.

    Goran began the fourth quarter with an offensive and defensive rebound, then he immediately scored the first two suns baskets to give the SUNS THE LEAD 75-74 over the SPURS… He wasn’t done, and he had help.

    Leandro Barbosa helped make it impossible to defend the back-court of the Suns second unit. He had 7 fourth quarter points and 13 total, he gave the Spurs guards trouble all night with his speed and ability to pop the open shot.

    But the real story was GORAN DRAGIC.

    In the 4th…

    Goran Dragic scored 18 of 22 points between the 9 and 4 minute marks. He was unstoppable. Only one basket by Grant and one basket by Leandro were scored in that time frame and the Suns went from being up 80-76 to 100-86. Goran Dragic sealed the deal for the Suns.

    He Dream-shook Duncan. He made 5 of 5 from DOWNTOWN in the game and was 4-4 in the 4th and he was in complete control. Gentry even left him in when subbing back in Nash to seal the game in the final minutes. Goran led all Suns with 26 points. Behind him was Jason Richardon with 21. The Suns bench was the difference in tonight’s game!

    I refuse to post more because my elation could jinx the Suns and that is the very last thing I need. I am a homer in tonight’s post and I will update everyone on ROLO’s status for game 4.

    Jeremy Baker said, “Suns win tonight, rest RoLo till the Western Conference Finals”. I don’t ever assume we will be there. I won’t believe it until the Suns have secured win number 4!

    Go Suns!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Let’s hear the Suns love!!!