Monday, May 08, 2006

I Hate it When I'm Right...

Suns shoot 55%, Suns win.

Look, I watched the game, you watched the game.... The stretches where the Clippers outscored them, were they doing anything differently on defense? Not really. The Suns just missed shots during those stetches. Pretty much the same defense, pretty much the same looks. 54.7% overall, 44.4% on 3's, 96% from the line. WOW. If they shoot like that, how do you beat them?

The game was lost in two stretches tonight, the last 40 seconds of the 3rd, and 2.5 minutes in the 4th.

With 40 seconds to go in the 3rd, Maggette has a fast break dunk, but first he decides to take a couple extra steps (never mind that they pretty much never call that walk in the NBA - he did walk, and there was just no reason for it.) Nash makes a lay up on the 2-for-1. Final Clipper possession results in a Diaw steal on the entry pass from Livingston to Brand, followed by a Raja 3 pointer. 5-0 Suns from the point where the Clippers had a sure two and gave it away, turns a 3 point Clipper lead into a 2 point Suns lead.

Then, with the score tied at 101 in the 4th and a little over 8 minutes left, Maggette goes into the air for a 3, changes his mind, and again is called for travelling. (Incidentally, does anyone know what Dunleavy and the Clippers were arguing about on that call? Seemed like a text book walk to me.) The Suns score 11 points on their next 5 possessions (3 2 point field goals, 1 3 pointer and 2 FTs) while the Clippers rest Brand. 150 seconds later, the Suns had a 112-103 lead, and the Clippers never got within 6 the rest of the way. Amazingly, I didn't think the Clippers played that badly during the stretch. Kaman had a questionable offensive foul, and Ross and Livingston each missed wide open J's. That's it - but that's how good the Suns are offensively. You have a couple of empty trips, you look up and the game is over.

Obviously there's a lot to feel positive about in this game, but nothing really that we didn't already know. The Suns have no answer for Brand. Check. Steve Nash can't guard either Sam Cassell or Shawn Livingston. Check. Corey Maggette is a great offensive player. Check. On the negative side of the ledger: Cuttino and Vlad were basically invisible, and the Clippers committed some costly turnovers. And unfortunately, I think only the Suns can stop the Suns on offense.

Overall the Clippers shot 59.3%, and Brand was 18-22. Of course, you look at the 22 shots, and you pretty much say, 'huh, how did he manage to miss 4 times?' Sure, it's a game you want to win, when you shoot almost 60% on the road. But as I've said before, it's all about the Suns. If they shoot well, they will win. It's just that simple.

So in each of three wins against the Clippers (including the regular season), the Suns have shot 55% from the field. As a team, they shot a smidge under 49% for the year. Can they keep it up? Can the Clippers do anything to slow them down?