A thrilling matchup in the Southwest

May 22, 2005, midnight | By Adith Sekaran | 15 years, 8 months ago

Former MVP faces the newest MVP

The San Antonio Spurs will likely face their toughest competition yet against the Phoenix Suns. The Suns are led by their MVP point guard Steve Nash, who runs one of the NBA's most potent offenses. While the Spurs will look to counter the Suns with their defense, their scoring from an injured Tim Duncan in the paint should not be underestimated.

Keys to victory for the Suns

1. Bench Play

The Suns led the league in scoring this year, and every member of their starting five is capable of averaging a double double every night. Additionally for this series, the Suns will regain Joe Johnson (at some point) from an eye injury that limited him to the first two games of the Dallas series. Johnson was replaced by Jim Jackson, one of the stronger players on the Phoenix bench. The Phoenix bench will really have to remedy the significant drop off in level of play from the starters. Backup point guard Leandro Barbosa must try to provide some offense while Nash takes a well deserved breather.

2. Make sure Amare does not disappear

Amare Stoudemire will have the toughest defensive assignment, guarding two-time MVP winner Tim Duncan. Stoudemire might be lucky that Duncan has suffered several ankle sprains, the most recent coming during game six against the Seattle Supersonics. Regardless of his ankle troubles, Duncan won the game and series with his last minute layup. Meanwhile, Stoudemire excelled in the first few games against Dallas, then disappeared altogether. Despite averaging nearly 29 points and 12.5 rebounds against the Mavericks, in games four and six he averaged only 16.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. Keeping in mind that Dallas does not play defense emphasizes the difficulty the Suns will have with a streaky Amare.

Keys to victory for the Spurs

1. Throw everything at Nash

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich (Pop) plans on starting Tony Parker against Nash. However, Parker will have to improve his defense to prevent Nash from averaging 30 points and 12 assists as he did against the Mavericks. If Parker proves to be useless in defending, Pop might throw better and bigger defenders at Nash. Defensive specialist Bruce Bowen seems to be eager to guard Nash and slow him down as he did with Seattle point guard Ray Allen last round. The Spurs might also use Manu Ginobili at times to defend Nash. As evident when Nash is on the bench, the Suns are not nearly the same team without him.

2. Help Duncan

Duncan is fully capable of leading the Spurs to victory himself, but on bad wheels, he will need some help. For the first time in Duncan's career with the Spurs, he has a teammate averaging over 20 points a game in the postseason, Ginobili. Ginobili will have to continue to score and help on the defensive end for the Spurs to have a chance. Parker will also have to try to keep up with Nash on both offense and defense. The Frenchman must distribute the ball and continue to keep his scoring around 20 points a game. Duncan can always stay in the game as a decoy and can probably still abuse the defenders one-on-one with his ankle sprain.

The winner of the series will depend on who follows their keys to victory. The Suns will have the advantage in a shorter series because of their weak bench. However, the series will likely extend to six or seven games, and by then the Suns' starters will be fatigued. By then the Spurs will have Duncan ready to run again and will definitely have the upper hand. This series will go down to the wire with the Spurs winning in seven games.

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Adith Sekaran. Adith Sekaran is finally a senior at Blair. Adith is a man who is a big time sports fan and can spend any day to its' entirety watching sports or ESPN. Football season is his favorite, which he spends cheering on his ‘Skins to no … More »

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