All the so-called “major” prognosticators — ESPN, 82games.com, Hoopshype, my Dad — have weighed in with their thoughts about how the remainder of this playoff series will play out, but none have provided you with the kind of highly-educated, statistically-driven, purely objective and unbiased analysis that you’re about the receive here, from me, the Phoenix Suns Superfan. Others have examined points in the paint, second chance scores, defensive rebounding and turnover-assist ration. I will look at the truly burning questions that will decide this series, such as:
1. WHICH TEAM HAS STEVE NASH, AMARE STOUDEMIRE AND JASON RICHARDSON?
I researched this one thoroughly, and after much contemplation, I think the edge here has to go to the Suns.
2. WHICH TEAM HAS THE MOST MATURITY?
Portland has been justly lauded for its collection of young talent, which is truly impressive, maybe the best this side of the Thunder, when the Blazers are healthy. But in the playoffs, you lean on tested veterans for stability. For the Suns, that means Steve Nash and Grant Hill, two of the most-respected, well-thought of and professional players in the league’s history. For the Blazers, those roles are played by career vagabonds Andre Miller and Juwan Howard. Not even the fact that Howard’s college team helped popularize baggy shorts can sway the edge over to Portland in this category.
3. WHICH TEAM DIDN’T BURY CHANNING FRYE ON THEIR BENCH AND FORGET ABOUT HIM?
In New York, Frye was a promising offensive player. In Portland, he was “the guy who wasn’t LaMarcus Aldridge.” In Phoenix, he’s become a valuable big man who has expanded his game beyond anyone’s dreams, and elevated the Suns’ second unit to one of the best in the NBA.
4. WHO HAS MOMENTUM?
Please. The Suns absorbed the Blazers’ best shot in Game 5, when Portland sank their first three hundred shots (or thereabouts), and Phoenix calmly blew the roof off America West Arena by going berserk in the open court and shot-put Nate McMillan’s gutsy club halfway back to Rip City. The bench is just getting going and discovering the lid has been taken off the basket, Goran Dragic is attacking the rim like it hit on his sister, and Amar’e isn’t letting anyone provoke him. The Suns have to be supremely confident, and they’re grown-up enough to know that Portland’s crowd will be roaring by about lunchtime Thursday, the Blazers will be coming out desperate and determined, and will probably play the Suns tight for as long as Phoenix lets them. These Suns can remain patient, limit turnovers, and wait for their opportunity to seize the tempo and make it theirs.
5. WHO HAS THE BETTER JARED/JERRYD?
Let’s turn to the Game 5 box score for this one. Hmm. Points were about a push, 17 for Bayless, 19 for Dudley. Ours shot a little better, 6 for 10 in
25 minutes, as opposed to 6 for 14 in 38 minutes…Both guys shot about 60% from three-point land. In terms of plus-minus, Bayless was -12, while Dudley was…+36. Well. Let’s move on, shall we?
6. WHO HAS THE BETTER UNIFORMS?
If the Suns were wearing either of their previous two uniform designs, this category would narrowly tip in their favor. The purple-dominated, western-lettered original uniforms were unique in their color scheme — no other team resembled them. The “shooting Suns” unis of the Barkley years were ahead of their time, incorporating more of the uniform than most teams,and incorporating trendy black before the rest of the league really got there. The best thing about the current uniforms is its use of “PHX,” a forward-looking abbreviation of home city that has since been adopted by other teams (Oklahoma City uses OKC in their logo). By contrast, the Blazers haven’t really changed their uniform, or their logo, much over the years. What might have looked dated, given that Portland came into the league in 1970, has been ever-so-slightly tweaked to hold up incredibly well over the years. Solid color scheme, and the look is classic, yet modern.
And you didn’t think I was going to be objective, did you?