Spurs Bury the Nuggets

Written by Randy Watson

 Michael Finley set a franchise playoff record by hitting 8 three-pointers and sending the Nuggets into the offseason.  Unlike the other games in the series which were mostly decided in the later moments, this one wasn\'t quite as dramatic.  Although Denver led by 4 points at halftime, the Spurs\' defense held the Nuggets to a franchise playoff low 30 points in the second half, and Allen Iverson, while scoring 21 points in the contest, went 6-22 doing so.

For San Antonio, Finley hit most of the big shots including a three pointer at the beginning of the third period to kick start the Spurs\' run, but Tim Duncan was again his efficient self on both ends of the court.  For the game he scored 23 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and had one steal and one block.  Tony Parker was again the catalyst for the team, amassing 10 assists and scoring 16 points of his own.  As a team, San Antonio shot 47% from both the field, and from behind the three-point line. 

Up next for the Spurs are the Phoenix Suns, and their fast-paced, run-and-gun offense, led by Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire.  The Spurs’ won two of the three regular season meetings between the two teams, and in the 2005 playoffs, dispatched the Suns 4-1.  Phoenix is coming off a series against the Lakers, where they won 4-1, and were only mildly challenged.  Against San Antonio should be different.

Although the Spurs are typically though of as a defense-first team, in their first meeting of the year, San Antonio played Phoenix’s game, and won 111-106.  The head-to-head advantage in the playoffs is held by San Antonio, 17-15.  In order for the Spurs to advance to the Western Conference Finals, they will have to limit Phoenix’s transition scoring, rebound well, slow the game down, and make smart baskets.

San Antonio should be full of confidence after the intense defense it played against Iverson/Anthony, and will look to do the same against Nash, Stoudamire, and Marion.  Also, the Spurs have a significant advantage, as they have gone 14-4 against the Suns since coach Mike D’Antonio took over.

Phoenix has home court advantage for this series, and Game 1 is Sunday @ Phoenix at 2:30 PM.