After the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in six games, people finally began to realize something that should have been apparent months ago: The Cavaliers were a one-man act.
Antawn Jamison, the one player on Cleveland’s roster aside from LeBron James that could actually be argued as elite, tanked under pressure, and the rest of Cavaliers followed suit.
Then all of a sudden, people started to realize that the Cavaliers really weren’t all that good. They realized that James’ teammates were little more than a group of lukewarm bodies.
Jamal Mashburn even went as far as calling the Cavs a "façade."
Well guess what? They weren’t the only façade in the playoffs, and they may not have even been the biggest one.
Though the Cavaliers’ strategy of placing 100 percent of the work on James was flawed, they at least boasted a player talented and rugged enough to lead them to a championship title.
The Phoenix Suns have no such luck.
At the start of the playoffs, the Suns were essentially handed a pass to the second round when they drew the Portland Trail Blazers. Due to injury, the ‘Blazers were without close to half their roster, and three-fifths of their starting lineup, including Brandon Roy.
Sure, the Blazers played a man wearing a No. 7 jersey that was lettered “Roy” in the back, but that wasn’t Brandon Roy. That was a man less than a month removed from surgery that was simply trying to boost his team’s morale with his presence.
The Spurs, on the other hand, just tanked.
It's not that they didn’t have opportunities. The Spurs had an early 18-point lead in Game Three, and another early nine-point lead in Game Four. Worse, they actually lead in the fourth quarters of Games Two and Three, but still managed to be swept anyway.
Historically, the Spurs have prided themselves on their defense and their fortitude particularly during crunch time. Both of those traits surprisingly failed the Spurs against a Suns team that hasn’t made any major acquisitions since they failed to even qualify for the playoffs last season.
Even having said all of that, we haven’t discussed Tony Parker’s questionable health during the series.
Still, the Suns won, I just don’t buy that because they’ve advanced to the Western Conference finals, where they haven’t been for nearly half a decade, we’re supposed to believe that anything could happen.
Even with Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum’s health being questionable, the Lakers team that the Suns are up against is bigger, better, stronger, and smarter than anything they can contend with.
Though many have contended that Suns point guard Steve Nash will make present the Lakers with a sizable problem, it’s the world’s best-kept secret Nash isn’t particularly effective in half-court settings.
In fact, the entire Suns team thrives only when they can dictate the pace of the game and are playing against defensively inconsistent units with little size.
They won’t find any of the above in Los Angeles.
Besides, didn’t the Lakers just sweep a team led by a high quality point guard? In fact that point guard, Deron Williams, averages more points and assists not only in this postseason but over the span of his career than Nash.
Yet, three of ESPN.com’s eight analysts picked the Suns to win the series.
Why? Does anyone think Goran Dragic is going off for 23 points in the fourth quarter again?
Maybe its because the Suns playoff victories against the then-rebuilding Lakers in 2006 and 2007, have been getting more attention than the Lakers 9-3 record against the Suns in the last three seasons.
Leave it to professional analysts and the mainstream media to go for drama over relevancy.
The reality is that the Suns are fortunate just to be here, Nash is going to be held in check, and the Lakers are gonna close this thing out in five games.
Bank on it.