Let’s face it, a lot of people were hoping to see the Suns’ Cinderella story continue through the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately for them, they were counting on the wrong fairy tale—for the most part.
Cinderella ran into a Beast instead.
As the Lakers ran the Suns out of the building 124-112, beating them at their own game for the second time in three nights, it was apparent: The clock had struck midnight.
To be blunt, the Suns never had a realistic shot at winning the series, but the Lakers have been dominant to a surprising extent with their resolve and focus peaking at exactly the right time, reminiscent of a certain green-wearing playoff team in the East.
Though both teams sport a trendy 2-0 lead, neither is inexperienced enough to lose focus of their current opponent—but by now, you you to know that if even just for a moment, the Lakers and Celtics have already glanced in each other’s direction.
For the time being, the Lakers have been absolutely dominant in their third consecutive Western Conference Finals appearance. While the Suns, whom a surprising amount of analysts had picked to actually win the series, have fallen flat in the face of the Lakers superior, strength, size and fortitude.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When the Lakers are focused, the only team that can beat them is themselves.
Look for the Suns to make Game 3 tighter at home, but ultimately it won’t matter.
You saw it when the Suns’ wilted in the face of Pau Gasol’s physicality. You saw it on the Suns’ faces as the Lakers exploded in the fourth quarters of both Games 1 and 2. You saw it in Kobe’s eyes as he toyed with the Suns, conducting the Lakers’ offense to the tune of a career playoff high 13 assists: The Suns are over-matched.
They just are.
We could stretch this thing out for another few paragraphs, but instead let’s close by analyzing a few key numbers:
126.0 – The number of points the Lakers average in the first two games against the Suns’ “defense”.
46 – The number of successful times out of 46 attempts that Phil Jackson coached teams have won a playoff series after taking Game 1.
34.5 – The staggering number of points the Lakers average in the fourth quarter of this series.
24 – The jersey number of the man Grant Hill was supposed to slow down (insert laugh track here).
16.5 – The average point differential between the teams thus far.
6 – The number of Western Conference titles Kobe’s already led the Lakers to in six attempts.
3 – The number of Lakers' big men Amare Stoudemire had the audacity to call out. These call outs featured threats that Bynum was going to get “banged up”, that Lamar Odom’s 19 points and 19 rebounds were merely “lucky” and Stoudemire even went as far as to recall the days where he “dominated” Pau Gasol in Memphis.
0 – The percentage of Stoudemire’s unsubstantiated big talk that he actually was able to back up.
Innumerable – The amount of people who were suckered into believing in the legitimacy of the Suns “new look”.
Oh yeah, and four – the amount of words that form my favorite sentence: I told you so.