That’s right, it’s time for everybody’s favorite game, “If The Playoffs Started Today!” That’s right, as promised earlier this week, we’re going to take a look at possible playoff matchups for the Suns based on whatever arbitrary combination of factors yer pal Señor Sun-N-Gun chooses. Today we’ll look at the Suns matchup if the playoffs did, in fact, start today (and on a tangentially related note, don’t you hate it when you go to work and you would like to get some blogging done, on the clock if possible, only to discover that while you can use your laptop to access your place-of-employment’s wi-fi, it will arbitrarily just not access certain sites? It doesn’t necessarily deny you access, but it just sits there spinning and spinning and spinning and spinning that stupid little wheel and trying to hypnotize you and then you get really irritated because you can’t blog from work. Yeah, me too).
Anyway, yeah…if the playoffs started today, the Suns would match up with…the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now, before we even talk numbers, let’s just talk feelings (no, we don’t have to talk about our feelings; it’s not that kind of blog). Now, the first two things I think of when I consider the Suns playing the Thunder in the first round are:
1. Oh shit.
The Oh shit is for the Durantula. That guy is ridiculous. Have you watched him play? He’s everything. I don’t mean he does everything; I mean he is everything. And then I think of the rest of that squad (especially Westbrook and Harden and Ibaka and then I think of Maynor coming of the bench and that Oh shit gets all drawn out like Ohhhhhhhhh shhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
The uh-oh is because of my gut feeling that at some point, the Thunder are going to become the New Spurs. Their combination of talent and international players and “nice guys” and Spurs-related management and PapaStern-crony ownership just make me exceptionally nervous.
But hey, they still have to play the games, right?
This season, the Suns and Thunder have played twice (home and home), with one game yet to come (next Friday @OKC). The road team has won each game so far.
Game 1 was on December 23rd, when the Suns were in the midst of their winter swoon. The game was played at the Suns’ pace (98.5), and the Suns shot the ball better (.500-.478) and made more free throws (26-24). OKC won the game 117-113. I’m pretty sure if I gave you two chances to guess the two factors that led to this Suns loss, you’d only need one, and you’d be right: the Suns out-turned-over the Thunder 14-11, and were outrebounded by 10, including giving up 16 offensive boards. Yeah, that’ll do it.
Game 2 was on February 23rd, just as the Suns were really starting to get their shit together. I remember being fearful of this game because Nash didn’t even travel with the team (he was still coming down off of his Olympics/ASG hangover) and OKC was playing awfully well at the time. This game was played nearer Oklahoma City’s pace (94.1), but this time the Suns way outshot the Thunder (.513-.442). PHX shot more free throws, but OKC made more, (22-17). The Suns outrebounded OKC 45-35, and also out-turned-over OKC 17-12. Basically, the Suns did just enough good things to outweigh the dumb things they did, and pulled out the two-point win.
Game 3 is coming up next Friday, and I reckon we’ll have to update after seeing what happens.
I’m on record as saying that OKC is, well, really good. But I think that (right now at least) the Suns are better. That is, of course, if they do the things they need to do (like get rebounds, natch) and don’t do the things they oughtn’t do (like turn the ball over, der). Seems pretty simple if you ask me.