Walking back to our hotel after the annual playoff media dinner this evening, I was saying how I wished that Suns broadcasters Tom Leander or Gary Bender were along for the trip so they could file a blog for Suns.com.

 

Steven J. Koek, Suns.com TV producer extraordinaire, then asked why I don’t write one.

 

Good question.

 

A can of Rockstar Juiced and a bag of peanut butter M&Ms later, and I’m at my keyboard ready to share my thoughts and stories from San Antonio.

 

Let’s start with the aforementioned dinner. For each of the last three years, Suns owner Robert Sarver has treated the traveling Phoenix media to a nice meal, as a thank you for the press coverage during the season. Coach D’Antoni has joined in the last couple years, but was noticeably absent tonight. Everyone understood, of course, that he’s got more important things on his mind than Tex-Mex.

 

The general consensus among the newspaper, radio and TV reporters I talked to was that tomorrow’s Game 4 is the most important game of the season, and – if the Suns are so fortunate to go on to win their first NBA Championship next month – could end up being one of the most pivotal games in franchise history.

 

Think about it. If the Suns lose a second straight here, they’ll find themselves in a deep and dark hole, trailing the Spurs 1-3. And while they’ve climbed out of similar holes before, most recently last season when they came back to defeat the Lakers in seven games, this Spurs team is not that Lakers team.

 

Amaré Stoudemire went so far as to call it a “must win” after his foul trouble led to the Suns’ Game 3 loss here on Saturday, and I can’t say I disagree.

 

Should the Suns bounce back, though, and take Game 4 – and no one I talked to doubted that they can do just that – then they have reclaimed the invaluable home court advantage with two of next three games to be played at US Airways Center.

 

Before the Conference Semifinals started, I told friends and co-workers that I thought the Suns would defeat the Spurs in seven games. In fact, as far back as April 5th – after the Suns lost in San Antonio in their last regular season meeting – I said that the Suns would win in seven IF they were able to hang on to the No. 2 seed to ensure the seventh game between the Western Conference rivals would be played in Phoenix.

 

I had my concerns over whether or not the Suns could win a Game 7 here, and I have those same concerns over a Game 6 next Friday. Especially if it’s a possible elimination game, where the experience and confidence of past NBA Championships could play a huge role for the home team.

 

But I’m sticking with my pre-series prediction. The Suns will win tomorrow night, again on Wednesday back in Phoenix and advance to the Conference Finals for the third straight year by winning a Game 7 next Sunday.

 

What do you guys think? Scroll down below to submit your replies, and watch for my new in-game blog from my upper level press seat at AT&T Center tomorrow night.

 

ODDS & ENDS & TEXAS GIFTS

 

 

  • I’m not going to suggest that the waiter at our restaurant on the Riverwalk was a “dirty” Spurs fan, but it was surprising when the table that Sarver and several reporters were sitting at suddenly broke, sending drinks and salads soaring.  

     

  • Channel 12’s sports reporter Bruce Cooper won the award for the most colorful dinner attire, arriving in a bright peach sportcoat straight out of Craig Saeger’s closet. Word was that Ricky Martin is staying in a nearby hotel – a couple of his dancers even passed through our party – but no one knew until Coop showed up that the Temptations were in town, too.  

     

  • We don’t have the video to show you (we slept through today’s practice after working on the web site until 5 a.m. this morning), but we hear that Leandro Barbosa was making some impressive passes to Eric Piatkowski. With his feet! Standing on the sidelines at halfcourt, LB was drop-kicking the Spalding up and over to the far corner behind the three-point line, where Pike would catch, shoot and drain shot after shot.
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  • Speaking of practice today, I hear that Raja Bell was still pretty short with reporters. If you watched our post-game coverage on Suns.com, you probably noticed that the Suns’ guard was not at all pleased after the Game 3 loss. Not that I blame him, of course. I get the feeling that the Suns were disappointed that they didn’t match the Spurs’ aggressiveness and were not amused by the Spurs’ enjoyment over the win.
  • I don’t know if you saw it, or if the Suns saw it for that matter, but if I was Coach D I think I would show them the video of Tim Duncan’s post-game comments, in which he laughed hard when asked if this was a physical series. “Did you see the last series?” he replied,�trying to hold back more laughter. “Those guys were a lot more physical than these guys.”

     

     

     

  • We took a walk down to the Alamo this afternoon – Steven J. wanted to visit Pee Wee’s basement – and then had lunch at a little mall on the Riverwalk. Stopping into a new and used video game store, I was startled when a teenager came racing in to yell at one of his friends working behind the counter. “HURRY, SHAWN MARION IS OUTSIDE!” Sure enough, Trix was looking at some jewelry when not posing for photos for fans with camera phones.
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  • I don’t know what Shawn bought, but I thought I’d pick up a souvenir for our new “Suns.com Skybox” – look up towards the rafters above section 203, if you’re at Wednesday’s Game 5. I debated between a stuffed Jackelope and stuffed Armadillo, who was dressed in leather chaps and a gunbelt, but they were $130 each. I then considered a giant orange foam cowboy hat, a “Hillbilly Suitcase,” which was a pair of tighty whities with wooden handles, and a “Lone Star Windchime” made of dangling beer cans. Yee haw!  

     

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