Although they’re playing the champs on their home-court, I’m going to deliver to you why, despite facing elimination, I think the Suns are going to pull out Game 5.
Diaw might end up being the key to Game 5.
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1. Hot Hands: The Suns players are hot. In the first three games of the series, the usual suspects, Amaré Stoudemire, Steve Nash and Shaquille O’Neal all were able to contribute offensively, while some of the other players didn’t produce as much as expected. However, going into Game 5, Gordan Giricek is in rhythm, Boris Diaw is hot, Leandro Barbosa is still feeling good from Game 3 and Raja Bell is en fuego. Shooters thrive on confidence, and they all should have a decent amount heading into the AT&T Center.
2. STAT Attack: The team’s leading scorer, Amaré Stoudemire, only scored seven points in Game 4 and the Suns still blew the Spurs out. That is an ominous sign for San Antonio because STAT rarely has two poor shooting games in a row. With everyone coming into the game on fire and STAT due to erupt, the Suns could score 120 points.
3. Keep It Down Low: With Boris starting at the 3, the Suns recognize the mismatch he has in the post on smaller players such as Manu Ginobili and Michael Finley. Diaw makes the Spurs pay with his repertoire of moves down on the blocks. And when they decide to double-team him, he is such an adept passer that he’ll find the open man and help someone, let’s just say Raja, score 27 points on open looks.
4. Barkley’s Blessing: TNT analyst Charles Barkley said on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” on Monday that the Suns were the team most likely to make a comeback in the playoffs. Sir Charles, who never gives credit where it isn’t due, said that the Suns didn’t show any quit in them and for that reason, he could see them making a run at the Spurs.
5. Put the D in 3D: With Diaw being able to stay close on Spurs guard Tony Parker, it seems that the Suns have found a possible solution to San Antonio’s pick-and-roll game. Diaw has the length to bother Parker’s shots, as well as the quickness to stay in front of him. In addition, the activity of Phoenix’s big men have allowed them to step out on the screen and make the Spurs’ perimeter players think twice about whether or not they have enough room to shoot the mid-range jumper.
6. Wounded-Animal Syndrome: Growing up as kids, if you ever went camping or on a field trip into the mountains, adults would always tell you to be aware if you came across a “wounded animal,” because they were always the most dangerous. Phoenix has to be the aggressor every game because they are just one loss away from vacationing in Barbados. The Suns are “wounded,” whereas San Antonio is still in the driver’s seat. That means that the Suns can jump on the Spurs early and put the pressure on them to fight back.
7. Winning in Any Language: Despite being up by over 20 points late in the game, Shaq reacted negatively to the Spurs’ center Fabricio Oberto when the two became a little entangled with each other. After jawing at him a little bit, the media asked Shaq what he said to Oberto. O’Neal replied, “I just spoke to him in his own language.” When the media asked what language that was, Shaq responded, “Vulgar ebonics.” That exchange should let the Spurs know that there is still a lot of pride and a lot of fight left in the Suns, and they want to make this interesting.
8. Law of Averages: With the Suns garnering two victories over the Spurs on their home-court this season, and just falling short of grabbing another W in Game 1, the Suns are due for some road magic. It’s almost scientific. Einstein believed that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction and that over time, everything would return to its average. With these two teams being as evenly matched as they have been for so long, one would have to reason that the Suns would have to even out their record in this series a bit more. The Spurs have one blowout and two close victories. The Suns have one blowout… so if Einstein was creating a formula for this game, he would probably state that the Suns would win in a nail-biter…
9. A New Creator: Although Suns fans are accustomed to the high-wire attack with Nash at the helm, Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich has been determined to limit the effect that the two-time MVP has on the game. By placing Bruce Bowen on Nash and attempting to take away his passing lanes, it has hindered Nash’s ability to get his teammates into the flow of the game. But with Diaw at the small forward, there is another player that the Suns can facilitate their offense through. Besides Nash, he is the best player on the Suns for getting other players involved. Shaq, STAT, LB and Raja are all finishers, but they aren’t known for their ability to create for other players. Diaw, on the other hand, had four triple-doubles in one year a couple of seasons ago. So instead of putting all of the pressure on Nash to begin the offense, the Suns can look to Diaw to give them an advantage early in the shot clock.
10. Winning Taste: Not only was taking Game 4 vital for getting that winning feeling back, but it was even more important that the Suns routed the Spurs. Going into Game 5, they are not only confident that they can defeat the world champs, but that they can blow them out. Having that feeling fresh in their minds is something that Suns can return to when the Spurs make a run. It is no longer a theory that they can run them out of the building, it is a fact…