Phil Jackson and Steve Nash have been able to keep quiet for a day so now our attention can actually turn to the on the court business in the series between their respective teams, the L.A. Lakers and the Phoenix Suns.
So even though, as a Spurs fan, my wish is for the NBA to make these franchises substitute their teams with their D-League affiliates (the stellar Iowa Energy and L.A. D-Fenders, but of course you knew that) for the remainder of their season, here is how I see the series playing out.
In the last few days the Suns have become the sexy pick to win this series. A lot of the talking heads are saying Andrew Bynum’s and Kobe Bryant’s knee issues combined with Robin Lopez returning to the Phoenix line-up, albeit in a limited capacity, are going to diminish the L.A.’s size advantage.
The people who think this need to slow down. The fact is, Andrew Bynum was not going to see much time in this series anyway. L.A. is, and always was, going to rely more on Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol in the middle because they need defenders who can step outside on Phoenix’s big men. The Suns’ Amare Stoudemire and Channing Frye like to shoot from the outside and Odom and Gasol are better equipped to deal with them, inside and out.
But Phoenix’s bigs playing on the outside does present their one advantage. By forcing L.A.’s big men outside, the paint gets cleared for Jason Richardson and Steve Nash to drive the lane and then create from there. There are very few point guards in the league who can hang with Steve Nash and Derek Fisher sure ain’t one of them.
That should be the game the Suns try to play to win this series. Clear the middle and let Nash and Richardson drive, because these are definitely not the “Seven Second Suns” of the recent past. They simply don’t have the horses to run the way those teams did.
Working against the Suns is the fact that they will most likely try to guard Kobe Bryant with old man Grant Hill. Even with a hurt knee, Kobe should have no trouble being able to get around Hill whenever he wants. He will make Suns fans pine for the days of Raja Bell, and all of his antics, because even though he was annoying, he did get inside Kobe’s head. Also working against them is that when L.A. wants to go inside, they will be able to almost at will.
So can I cop out and say something like “I predict a great series.” ? No, that’s not allowed.
Will the L.A. frontcourt be able to deftly move between defending the three-point line and the paint? Or will Phoenix’s outside-to-inside game be effective? To me the x-factor will be Phil Jackson. I think he will be better at responding to changes in his game plan than Alvin Gentry. Phil has been here before.
So what is my prediction? Home-court holds and the Lakers win a close game 7 to advance to the NBA Finals.
About the Author
Written by Gabriel Rodriguez
Born in Germany, early childhood in NYC, raised in the D.C. area, currently reside in Charlottesville, VA. Big fan of the NY Giants and San Antonio Spurs.