Monday, May 15, 2006

Clippers 114, Suns 107

Wow, is it ever nice to win a close game against these guys!

Of course, for awhile there it looked like it wasn't going to be that close. When Cassell made the corner trey with 5:54 left, I said it was over. (So did Kenny and Charles apparently.) In fact, the boy looked up and said, "Does this mean the Suns will bring in the guy with the funny name and the tall socks?" Unfortunately, no, there was no Tsklkdasj;ldakfj sighting in this game.

The 12-0 run was a strange one. The Clippers didn't play badly, and the Suns didn't play that great. Over the next 5 minutes, the Clippers had 7 empty trips during which time they went 0-7 with 1 turnover and 1 offensive rebound. Of the 7 misses, all of them were very makeable shots, with Tim Thomas' weak side block of Cassell's layup qualifying as the only real defensive stop of the sequence. The Suns did a good job on the defensive glass during the stretch, but you could hardly say they were 'stopping' the Clippers.

Meanwhile, on the other end, the Suns were scoring on 6 out of 8 possessions, but they were only 2-4 shooting in the half court game. The turnover and the blocked shot both resulted in easy fast break points, Barbosa made some nice moves, and there were more of those pesky 4th quarter fouls (why can't Shaun Livingston get any love from the officials?)

But you have to give the Clippers credit. They dug deep and forced a crucial turnover when the lead was down to 3, and when the Suns had finally gotten to within one, after 7 straight misses, Elton and Sam made the shots that really counted, slamming the door shut.

The 4th quarter foul trend continued. In a game in which more fouls were called on the Suns than the Clippers, and there were 19 fouls TOTAL called on the Clippers, the first 7 fouls of the 4th quarter were all against LA, and the count was 8-1 going into the final minute when Phoenix started fouling to stop the clock. I don't get it, I really don't. At the very least, it's a statistical anomaly bordering on the paranormal. Who ya gonna call?

So, now it's a 3 game series, with 2 games in Phoenix. But of course, there has not proven to be any home court advantage for these teams, either in the regular season, or in the playoffs. So forget HCA. Who do you like? Who do you think is the better team?

Dad said he assumed the Suns were the better team since they finished with 7 more wins in the regular season. But don't forget two things about that:
  1. As I've pointed out, the Suns regular season win total is inflated due to the unique style of basketball they play - teams can't gear up for the Suns in the regular season they way they do in the playoffs.
  2. The Clippers are a better team now than the one that won 47 games. They are all healthy, Shaun Livingston is better, and Vlade Radmanovich was an important missing piece for much of the season.
I think the Clippers are the better team. I think they've proven that by outplaying the Suns for the bulk of this series. BUT... despite outplaying the Suns, the series is tied at 2-2, and I still would not bet against Steve Nash. I fear it will be the Suns in 7, as I said at the beginning.