The NBA Playoffs have been a fairly uncompetitive affair this year, besides for the Oklahoma City/Los Angeles series and Boston/Cleveland, you probably won't be able to recall a matchup that you will remember by playoff time next year.
This has caused many people to immediately begin predicting a Celtics-Lakers Finals and removing themeselves from these Conference Finals matchups. While this may be true especially in the East (how is Vince Carter treating you Orlando?) I don't agree with the idea of writing off any chance of the Suns winning.
If you look back at the Lakers/Jazz series in the second round, Game 3 was in the Jazz' hands and if they won I guarantee you that series was going six. Which in my opinion is the required amount of games for a series to be deemed "memorable." And the Suns have a great shot of pushing the Lakers to the brink.
They have many of the elements of a team that can pull off an upset in a basketball series.
They have the gunning point guards in Goran Dragic and Steve Nash, who as San Antonio fans can tell you, can single handily win games by themselves if they get hot.
A future Hall of Famer trying to get over the hump and take the monkey of his back Steve Young style, even though it is unfair that a player as great at turning mediocre talent into highly paid all-stars as Nash is would be given the "no rings" arguement when discussing the top point guards of all-time, I have him in the top five and he'll be close to the greatest of all-time before he retires.
They have veteran leadership and hungry role players. Grant Hill is a leader and the Suns bench is probably the toughest second unit in the league to play against.
Plus, you should never bet against Amare Stoudemire when he is trying on both ends of the floor.
The Suns also have a rabid crowd that is rumoured to be going with an "Orange-Out" for Game 3.
If there's anything the Suns are missing that prevents them from being able to win at least two of their three home games?
I don't think so.
The Lakers have Kobe Bryant and the tall frountcourt, but the games at Staples were a lot closer than people made it out to be, remember Oklahoma City ended up losing by double digits at Staples and won their home games. And the Suns are a better team than the young Thunder.
The Suns have a much better perimeter shooting game than the Lakers last two opponents and can at least provide two players who pose a threat to stop the Lakers bigs in the post every now and then. And as we saw in the first two rounds, if Kobe doesn't have an out of this world performance the Laker's lose.
If it wasn't for Bryant going off in Game 2, the Suns would have won that game, and same goes for two of the Jazz games. The Lakers have never felt the need to provide a second scorer or a playmaking point guard who can pick up the slack when Bryant is having an off game. The Lakers have went two different routes with Bryant during his career.
1. Putting the team on his back and outright winning the game. This has never worked. If you go back to the first three Post-Shaq years, the Lakers in their two playoff appearances bowed out to the Phoenix Suns in entertaining series. Kobe won them games, but can't win a playoff series being "G.O.A.T." when he tries proving that he is the best.
For the record the first method is Bryant's favorite gameplan and is why he only has four rings.
2. Surround Bryant with talented post players and use plan one in case of emergency. This is the winning formula and has only failed in one case. That was because the Shaq-Payton-Malone-Kobe team had such an unrealistic expectation for a team that had a weak bench. The Lakers win with this formula and have throughout history whether it has been with Magic or West, they always have a talented big matched up with a legend.
Whew, it is time to stop my rant. Hopefully you get the point, if Kobe doesn't have a great game the Lakers are in danger.
So you are going to tell me that every single NBA pundit is giving Nash, the most resilient in the NBA and a team of hungry cast-offs no chance over a team that has relied on Bryant, who is due for at least two bad performances in the coming weeks?
NBA analysis in 2010: Where Shortsighted Opinions Happen
I will bet anyone on this simple statement.
This series will be memorable.
And after two rounds of crap isn't that all we can ask for?
Chase Ruttig is a 17-year-old sportswriter residing in small-town Saskatchewan, the middle of nowhere in the sports world. You can find him on twitter: www.twitter.com/chaseruttig for more analysis and humour. Thanks for reading
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