And, a man called Shaq.
The Spurs managed to stay under the radar most of the season, again. Yet, they uncharacteristically let the division championship fall into the hands of the Hornets. How long has it been since the Spurs failed to win their division two years in a row? It feels like a long time.
History says the Spurs never win titles back-to-back. So, this is the year for the upstarts to capitalize on their apparent weakness. But, how many times have we all counted the Spurs out only to end up watching yet another parade down the River-walk when all is said and done?
Meanwhile, the vultures circled around the Suns this season after the Marion-Shaq trade. Yet, they've appeared to find their groove and Shaq has reportedly revitalized their locker room. And given that Amare has apparently run off Joe Johnson and now Shawn Marion, saving that locker room could be Shaq greatest challenge and greatest accomplishment yet.
It feels like the Spurs have been playing coy all season. Parker hasn't been in the headlines as much (sports or celebrity headlines). Ginobili has been their been their offensive spark but has missed a notable amount of games and spent most of the season coming off the bench. Duncan has been solid, but unspectacular. Or, else we've just become bored with his consistency.
But when the playoff lights are on, you expect to find this team's intensity at 11 and their coach making all of the right moves.
The Suns have been all over the map this season. They paid Seattle to take their best defender away (Kurt Thomas) and watched Thomas join the rival Spurs. Then they made the trade for Shaq to address their long lasting weakness in the middle at the risk of destroying their strength of spreading the floor and shooting from every position.
Okay, so enough history. What is going to happen in game one?
I admit, this is one of the two Western Conference first round series that has me pretty stumped.
Here is what I think I know...
- The winner of this series will ultimately make it to the Western Conference Finals.
- You can't convince me that this series will be settled in less than six games.
- San Antonio looks vulnerable. This is the Suns series to win.
- Shaq's ability to stay on the court and play 7 games should be the key to the series.
So, I guess I'm picking the Suns in six. If that is going to happen, I must believe that the Suns are going to win game one.