Just a quick post so that I can get to a few things that I wasn't able to address because of the amazing UEFA Cup Championships this afternoon. If you have even a passing interest in soccer of any kind, I encourage you to watch a replay of this classic as it is was as good and exciting a soccer match as you'll ever likely see.
Last night's Spurs-Suns game was a blast to watch. Two team who play very cohesively on the offensive end going back and forth all night long. It's really too bad that (a) Phoenix can't stop anybody when they need to and (b) Joe Johnson isn't going to be (completely) healthy for any of this series. As I said earlier this week, I believe that San Antonio would win this series even if Joe Johnson was playing (that whole no defense thing) but his absence basically seals the fate of Phoenix. Not only does Johnson give Phoenix another great shooter (3rd in 3 pt% in NBA this year) to spread the floor but he is also the backup point guard for the Suns when Nash needs a rest. Without him the Suns are forced to play Leandro Barbosa, who simply isn't ready for this level of competition. Perhaps even more important for Phoenix is that Johnson would be drawing the assignment of Manu Ginobilli during this series. Without Johnson to defend him, Phoenix has nobody who can give Ginobilli the kind of defensive challenge necessary to make his sometimes out of control style work against him and the rest of the Spurs. Purely as a basketball fan, I would've loved to see Johnson play in this series because the games (thus far) have been so damn entertaining and I would absolutely love to see this series go seven games. As it stands now, I can't see this thing going past five.
As for Manu Ginobilli, based on his performances thus far in the playoffs I'd have to say that Ginobilli is the first of the foreign imports with the neccessary skill and heart to be a true late game finisher, and he's using these playoffs to cement that school of thought. Most people (including me) would have pegged either Nowitzki or Stojakovic for this mantle a couple of years back. Yet, with Stojakovic completely dissappearing in the playoffs in each of the past three years and Nowitzki looking like a German version of Chris Webber (not in game but aversion to the spotlight in prime time situations) its safe to say that neither of those guys have the neccessary intangibles to be the kind of player who elevates his own game and those around them in the most crucial of moments. Just another reason to hate Argentinians.
As for tonight, I think that Miami recovers to win but only by pulling away in the fourth as the Pistons day/night off in South Beach ultimately catches up with them. I still don't see this series going past six games.
As I get ready to sit down and watch Game 2, I will leave you with a few words from today's UEFA Cup broadcast that you will never hear during an American sports broadcast...though I think it would be pretty sweet if the guys over at ESPN and TNT could work these games into a broadcast:
Guile: As in Robert Horry doesn't just hit big threes, he also defends the interior with the guile of a seasoned playoff veteran.
Aplomb: Amare Stoudemire finishes with APLOMB!!! (Can't you just hear Kevin Harlan screaming this? I thought so.)
Architect: Steve Nash was the architect of this textbook fastbreak, just watch how the ball never touches the ground.
Ubiquitous: Manu Ginobilli is absolutely ubiquitous on the defensive end.
Enjoy your evening.