We shoulda' seen this one coming. After all, don't the Spurs and Suns meet every postseason? San Antonio's Big 3 will take on Steve Nash and Phoenix starting Monday.
The San Antonio Spurs are flashing their old championship form as they start another playoff series with the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
Bookmaker.com has Phoenix as 4 ½-point home ‘chalk’ with a total of 203 ½-points. The Suns are 145 favorites for the series as a No. 3 seed going against a No. 7.
San Antonio (54-34 straight-up, 47-39-2 against the spread) is coming off a very impressive 4-2 series win over second-seed Dallas. San Antonio took the final game Thursday night at home, 97-87 as 4 ½-point favorites.
The Spurs won with hard-nosed aggressive play, especially on defense. They held Dallas to 92.8 PPG after averaging 102 PPG in the regular season. Dallas shot just 42.9 percent from the field.
The ‘under’ went 5-0-1 in the series.
Offensively, the Spurs averaged 93.3 PPG, down from 101.4 PPG during the regular season. However, they were able to score when needed and point guard George Hill came on the last four games (19.8 PPG).
Getting production from Hill is vital as a consistent scorer is needed besides the ‘Big 3’ of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Forward Richard Jefferson has been a big disappointment, scoring seven points or less in four Dallas games.
The Suns (58-30 SU, 52-35-1 ATS) lost at home to Portland in Game 1 of their series. They then went 4-1 SU and ATS, closing it out last Thursday, 99-90 as 1 ½-point road ‘dogs.
The 189 combined points scored went ‘under’ the 200-point total. The ‘under’ was 4-0 in the last four games after the ‘over’ started 2-0.
The Suns caught a break when Brandon Roy missed the first three games with a knee injury. Roy valiantly returned in Game 4, but was clearly feeling the effects, going 10-of-33 from the field (30.3 percent).
Phoenix (110.2 PPG) was the league’s highest scoring team in the regular season, but the defense ranked 26th at 105.3 PPG.
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Phoenix averaged 103.3 PPG against Portland, thanks mostly to Jason Richardson. He averaged 23.5 PPG, providing a great third scoring option along with Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash.
Phoenix has homecourt advantage, where it’s 34-10 SU and 27-16-1 ATS. It can’t afford to lose Game 1 again at home if it hopes to beat San Antonio.
San Antonio is 22-22 SU and 21-23 ATS on the road. It went 1-2 SU and ATS at Dallas last round, losing the opener 100-94 as four-point ‘dogs.
These teams have met three times this year, with Phoenix going 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS. Phoenix won both home games by double-digits. The latest was on April 7, 112-101 as six-point favorites. San Antonio’s Hill missed that contest.
The ‘over’ is 3-0 this year and each total was at least 206 points.
San Antonio has eliminated Phoenix from the playoffs four times since 2003. The Spurs do have a toughness advantage, plus the confidence of prior postseason success.
The Spurs want to get the ball to Duncan in the post where he can back down Stoudemire and hopefully get him into foul trouble.
The Suns have the edge off the bench. They went 10-deep against Portland and have several scorers off the pine. San Antonio has Parker playing the sixth-man role, but there are no other reliable scorers.
The ultimate advantage will be the team that dictates tempo. Phoenix needs to push the ball and avoid getting into half-court sets.
Phoenix center Robin Lopez has been out since the end of March with a back injury. There is no timetable for his return, but his bulk would be a great asset versus the Spurs frontline. San Antonio is not reporting any significant injuries.
TNT will have Monday's Game 1 at 7:30 p.m. (PT) from US Airways Center.