The second round of the playoffs could be the most exciting, due to the fact that the NBA doesn't re-seed teams after they advance. The matchup between the Spurs and the Suns figures to be monumental, with the winner taking over the proverbial driver's seat to represent the West in the NBA Finals.
This series is compelling on multiple levels. Not only do you have arguably the two best teams remaining in the playoffs facing each other in the second round, but the styles of the two teams couldn't be more opposite of one another. The Suns lead the league in scoring with 110 points per game, playing as fast as humanly possible on the offensive end of the floor. But the Spurs actually lead the league in margin of victory at over eight points per game, even though they finished in the middle of the pack in scoring. How'd that happen? Defense, my friends. San Antonio is fourth best in the league in oppomnents' field goal percentage allowed. The Spurs' methodical, boring fundamentally sound style of play is geared toward the playoffs, when things usually tend to slow down and become more of a half court, possession-by-possession battle.
Both teams made quick work of their first round opponents, and both were able to impose their will in terms of how the games were played. So who will prevail in this series? The Spurs took two of three from the Suns in the regular season, but let's look at the last time they faced each other in the post-season. In 2005, the Suns and Spurs faced off in the Conference Finals. And although Amare Stoudemire was virtually unstoppable, the Spurs won in 5.
More after the jump.
The Suns have better role players than they did back then with Diaw, Bell, and Barbosa playing key roles, while the Spurs' key players are virtually the same. The problem for Phoenix is, the Spurs will not get into a run-and-gun game with them for more than a few possessions at a time. They are way too smart for that, and will do everything they can to keep the tempo at a reasonable pace. I think the Spurs can be successful playing at the Suns' pace in small stretches, but I don't think the Suns can be successful in a half court set against the Spurs.
FanHouse Prediction: Spurs in 6.