After splitting the first two games, the Phoenix-Portland Series of the 2010 NBA Western Conference Playoffs moves to Portland.
First, a quick recap: Portland took the first game from Phoenix, winning POR105-PHX100. Portland came out strong and kept the Suns under their thumb with their defensive prowess. In Game 2, the Suns came back with a vengeance; playing not only a solid offense but a solid defense as well. Suns went on to win PHX119-POR90.
OK, so here are the overall points to keep in mind. Brandon Roy is still unable to play in the series. The Suns are the highest scoring team in the NBA, and have a road record of 22-19. The Trailblazers have beaten the Suns without Brandon Roy twice this year (once in regular season, once in playoff series). The Trailblazers are one of the most defensive teams in the NBA and they have a home record of 26-15.
Looking at individual players, the game could go either way. LaMarcus Aldridge for Portland seemed unstoppable in Game 1 of the series, but was stopped pretty effectively in Game 2. He is a strong, lanky, and talented player. My bet says it won't be so easy to shut him down twice in a row.
Phoenix's Amar'e Stoudemire tried desperately to get into the game during Game 1, but fell short against Portland's defense. Stoudemire actually fouled out of the game late in the 4th quarter when his team really needed him. If this happens again, it could be a disappointing trip to Portland for the Suns. However, if Stoudemire ends up being a key role player like he was in Game 2, it may mean the win for the Suns.
The other player to keep an eye on is Jason Richardson of the Suns. He was absolutely on fire in Game 2, scoring 29 points. If Suns coach Alvin Gentry finds a way to get him the ball like he did in Game 2, Portland is going to have a tough game on their hands.
The advantage would seem to go to the home team on this one except when looking at the seeding. Phoenix is still the better team and a Portland win will still be an upset. Phoenix has had trouble with Portland this year, but that doesn't mean they haven't figured out a way to change that.
I think it's going to be a tight game with a lot of back and forth for the lead. In the end, I'm going to give it to the Suns. Taking into account Portland's defense and the Suns offense (especially those 3-pointers!), PHX109-POR105.
Game 3 airs on NBATV Thursday, April 22 at 7pm Pacific time.