It’s rare that a title bout like we saw last night actually lives up to the hype. How many times have we been sold on a match or Championship Game that either ended in a first round knock out or a 111-73 victory? That certainly wasn’t the case last night.
Steve Nash was one of many heroes in the Suns’ big win in
Big D on Wednesday night.
I didn’t have doubts the Suns would climb back into the contest after a horrendous third quarter. When they were still down with about a minute left, however… well let’s just say I was skeptical to say the least. A buddy of mine kept insisting the game wasn’t over yet and he proved to be absolutely right.
Obviously it was Steve Nash at the center of attention after the victory and for good reason. The former Maverick made Dallas pay for every mistake they made (and they usually don’t make many), first by netting three clutch free throws and eventually the shot which forced the first overtime.
But let’s not forget the others who stepped up in the big 129-127 win. As was the case last year during Game 6 against the Lakers, Nash’s shot wouldn’t have even been possible were it not for a critical offensive rebound by Shawn Marion. This after the Matrix had stuck to Dirk Nowitzki like glue whenever given the defensive assignment. The final line from Shawn, as usual, didn’t have one specific statistic that jumps at you, but rather serve as a collective effort of what he brings to the table. Fifteen points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals – I don’t think anyone needs to campaign for a Defensive Player of the Year Award for Shawn, the numbers speak for themselves.
A little early for awards, but being I’m on a one-blog-every-three-months pace, now just may be the only time I get a chance. Leandro Barbosa again came off the bench, not sparking the Suns as he did in the victory over Houston, but doing something equally as important. With Nash resting on the bench, the Suns by no means folded to the Dallas Mavericks. That was due in large part to the “Brazilian Blur” who again played like a composed veteran. I asked Nash the other day about LB’s play this season and the two-time MVP used the word “poise” to describe the Brazlian native. We more than saw what Nash was talking about last night as Barbosa contributed 17 points and three assists. But put all the career numbers aside for LB’s accomplishments, he is running an offense and running it well. That is why he is the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
Amaré Stoudemire looked pretty good too, didn’t he? Forty-one point efforts like last night’s sure would’ve been nice in last year’s Western Conference Finals to say the least. I said going into the contest the Mavericks had no answers for STAT and he more than proved that last night, particularly when it mattered most. Were there still an award for Comeback Player of the Year, I believe Stoudemire’s name would’ve been on it since February.
Finally there’s the award matchup most had their eyes on last night, the race for MVP between Nash and Nowitzki. FOX Sports writer Charley Rosen chronicled the Mavericks MVP candidate down the stretch and points to a number of missed opportunities for the big man to seal the deal. Missed opportunities coming in the form of missed freethrows, jumpshots and big shots which were sent the other way by Marion. Nash meanwhile capitalized whenever he could with the three big free throws and big three-pointer in the final minute of play. Nash in fact scored 10 points in the final minute of regulation, finishing with 32 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds. Statistically he was matched by Nowitzki who finished with an equally impressive 30 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
Why does Nash get the edge in the MVP voting? Suns fans will point to the fact that Phoenix won the game, but let’s not forget these two teams did meet two times before this season with the Mavs on the winning end. Some will point to Nash’s clutch shot, but Nowitzki hit a clutch shot of his own in the December 28 meeting.
Nash gets the nod because when you’re a two-time MVP, the award is yours to lose. Steve Nash’s play this season gives no indication those three letters should be going anywhere. We’ve seen it in big time shots against the Warriors, Nets, Heat and Mavericks. We’ve seen it in his continued ability to make others around him better as he’s averaged a career-high 11.7 assists per contest and helped a number of teammates to career years yet again. We’ve also seen him score the basketball when need be himself, averaging a career-high 19.2 points per contest on career-best shooting from the field.
In my eyes you can’t take something away from somebody when they’ve given you more than anybody could’ve imagined. This season the MV3 has done just that.