On the surface, calling the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns history a “rivarly” may not be accurate. The Spurs have clipped the Suns four times in the past five seasons. But while it may not be a “rivalry” in the literal sense, bad blood most definitely remains.
Losing to a team multiple times over multiple years fosters and helps build that sense of resentment. The lasting image of Robert Horry shoulder-checking Steve Nash into the announcers table is one of the more memorable and infamous events in playoff history. The Suns also felt the aftershocks after Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw were suspended for attempting to come to the aid of their woozy leader. For kicks, let us not forget Bruce Bowen miraculously avoided suspension after kneeing Nash in the groin in Game 3 of that series.
An opportunity missed? Definitely. That said, the great thing about basketball is the opportunity to get one more crack at the bully who has been stealing your ball and kicking it over the fence for the past half decade.
The Spurs have consistently owned the Suns over the last decade, so why should this time be any different? Well the Tim Duncan of those series is no longer with us, and the Suns should benefit from more open drives to the basket and fewer dominating offensive performances from Timmeh. And obviously, counting the Spurs out (like the last round), just means there is a good chance they’ll prove you wrong. The emergence of George Hill has been big and could be the key to whether or not Popivich’s boys continue their magical run to the Western Conference Finals. Besides, the Suns had to double Lamarcus Aldridge on some possessions to compensate for their suspect post defense. Replace Aldridge with Tim ‘n the crew and it doesn’t look pretty.
The Suns on the other hand have been the team you love to watch especially when Steve Nash and company start scoring at will. It’s even amazing that this is Grant Hill’s first experience in the second round of the playoffs. Phoenix can push it to six or seven if they play with the same composure shown in Game six against Portland. But they’ve yet to prove their ability to body up with a more physical squad like San Antonio. Yet and still, if the Suns can get monster series from their two future free agents, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire, along with consistent bench production, the series could be theirs for the taking.