Open Thread – game 3

Kurt —  April 28, 2006

The playoffs are about adjustments. In the regular season, the daily grind and travel makes altering your basic strategy from night-to-night difficult, the changes you do make tend to be minor tweaks. That gives a team like Phoenix, with it’s very different style than everyone else, and advantage. Then, add to it that three of the four games the Lakers had against the Suns this season were back-to-backs and basically they went in and hoped the triangle would top the run-and-gun.

But in the playoffs, there is time to focus, time to make changes. Phil Jackson has won that battle so far, slowing the pace and taking the Suns out of their game. The ball is now in Mike D’Antoni’s court, and here are a few guesses as to what we might see tonight.

• To quote Christopher Cross (for the first and only time ever on this blog) — run like the wind. D’Antoni focuses on this in his comments in the LA Times. They have to up the tempo, even if that means taking a less-than-ideal shot on their own end just to get one off quickly. Ideally, better defense from the Suns would create turnovers and misses that can lead to breaks.

• Faster doubles on Odom in the post. He has had the upper hand against Marion, so look for fast help. The goal is not only to limit scoring but also to make Kwame — who has played well but is prone to turnovers — the primary option on the block.

• Stop looking for the kickout three and go to the rim hard. The Lakers have defended the perimeter well (for the most part) so look for the Suns to do what they can inside.

Off topic for just a second: I watched the local broadcast, not the TNT one, of game 2, but great bit from Suns fan at The End of the Bench blog from that broadcast:

Doug Collins: “This MVP has got heart. I’d go into a foxhole with him any day.” Anyone want to bet that if Doug Collins stepped into Steve Nash’s foxhole, Nash would say, “What the hell are you doing in my foxhole?”

Let the commenting-in-game begin. Being a Friday and all I figure more of you than usual will be watching this game at a bar, but we’ll keep the comment couch open anyway (bedside’s we’re 1-0 with this thread, you think I’m going to jinx it?).

Kurt

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62 responses to Open Thread – game 3

  1. As said by multiple sources, fastbreak basketball rarely succeeds in the playoffs. Defense and half-court offense are key ingredients to win in the post season and that’s what we’re starting to develop and Phoneix has not. Hopefully we come to play tonight and not do what we’ve done all year long after big wins and have a let down cause that’s exactly what the Suns need, a spark to start running again.

  2. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    so…if they are going to double team Lamar, and they will still of course double team Kobe…hmmm, doesn’t that leave us with 1 or 2 unguarded guys?
    I would be willing to bet that Kwame will be left to single coverage, or left alone by his man to double up one of us…so I hope he gets some easy looks down under the rim. he’s been open a lot there so far, but the window closes quickly, so it almost has to be a timong play/alley oop.
    we may not be getting that yet with Kwame, but the way this team is coming together for the stretch drive, add another season playing together and this trio, Kobe, Lamar and Kwame are going to be scarry!

  3. If those are the only optins Phoenix may consider, well, that’s not the gambles you take in playoff basketball. I’ve seen too many series now of a Phil and/or Kobe team where the opposing team has just lost their will and it usually comes from a simple yet dazzling play. I recall a series against Minny where Kobe drove along the baseline for a reverse dunk that made him flip over. After that Minny was never truly competitive. Same for the Spurs after .4, same with the Blazers when suddenly they’d get nine techs in a row. My basic premise is that Phil has a part in this and Phoenix may have just felt the latest version of this. Of course that remains to be seen but between the non-Kobe scoring machine offense and that one marvelous dunk Phoenix may be looking to hold onto the ropes right about now.

    I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself though because even if a guy is against the ropes, he still isn’t down for the count and the Lakers have to be willing and able to deliever that knockout blow of two wins in a row at home for a 3-1 lead…

    As for this open comments thread….like this WAAAAY better then say, Lakersground.net, which most of the time is too emotional and no where near as informative as everyone was here last game.

  4. Thank you CT, although I don’t want to dis Lakerground because there are a lot of people there who post good stuff and the moderators do a good job of keeping it an open public forum. Blogs are a little different, they can be a little more focused.

    I’m not sure that those are the only options the Suns have, just a few thoughts of what they might try. But they are the ones that jumped tto mind.

  5. By the way, on ESPN tonight, what is the under/over on the number of times we see a promo involving Mel Kiper’s helmet hair?

  6. “I’ve seen too many series now of a Phil and/or Kobe team where the opposing team has just lost their will…”

    That’s very true! I just never thought this team would get that type of mental toughness this season.

    People need to give Jackson a lot of credit for the ability to direct/teach/instruct his teams toward mental toughness. (What I mean by people I mean those who just say, “Anyone can win with Jordan/Pippen or Kobe/Shaq”) Back oh say 3 weeks ago, this team looked lost. I felt they lacked proper basketball IQ and they couldn’t close out games.

    Somewhere between Mihm’s injury, the confidence of a good finish to the regular season and the confidence in the triangle, this team is COMPLETELY different from the March edition. They look relaxed and confident. Who would have ever thought that they would stick to the pound-it-inside on offense and stay-at-home when Nash drives on defense gameplan for two games?

    I’m quietly hyped for tonight’s game (like when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter into the 7th inning). Part of me is expecting Phoenix to jump out early and seize an overconfident Laker team. (That’s what the March edition of the 06 Lakers would do.) But based on the body language of this team and with Jackson pulling the strings I can see the Lakers winning tonight.

  7. Ride like the wind

  8. gatinho via blackberrt April 28, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    Ride like the wind. Ball movement no turnovers.

  9. notreallyimportant April 28, 2006 at 7:15 pm

    5

  10. You can ‘t get on my for misquoting Christopher Cross. I should actually gain points for not knowing his lyrics.

  11. WorthyTomahawk April 28, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Devils advocate here (if I were the suns):
    - Start the game with Nash shooting a lot of jumpers because smush/sasha can’t cover him and hope that the lakers eventually double team (which we might counter by putting kobe on nash)
    - Double team the post either Odom or Kobe, even if leaves open 3pters
    - Have Marion defend Walton to give him breather on defense
    - Use Diaw as a high post passer on offense and have him cover Odom on defense
    - Thomas will cheat off of kwame to help with double teams
    - Crash the offensive boards more with marion, thomas & diaw for putbacks since the lakers are very purposely not pushing the fastbreak

    However, none of this helps them get out on the run…

  12. For tonight’s game…forget chanting MVP…they need to chant just simply…Kobe.

    Anyone can chant MVP, only the Laker fans can chant…Kobe.

    (This after watching WASHINGTON chant MVP for Arenas of all things.

  13. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    ok, I hope this one doesn’t go into OT, it’s 7:46PM… 2 mins still to go in Was vs Cle, and we must be half way through the 1st qtr by now…is there any other channel? FSN,???
    i really hate this TNT or ESPN coverage, we miss too much of our game.
    WTF??!!?

  14. Oh and…Suns are shaken…already I guarantee…

  15. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 8:53 pm

    at least during these time outs, they should go to the Laker game!
    did you see Luke take out Thomas??
    gonna be a physical game tonight folks

  16. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    thanks man, FSN, go Lakes

  17. Alright…so the three is what is keeping PHX in the game currently. We’re tracking the ball too much and not the man hence TT’s rain of open shots. Marion’s shot isn’t falling well and neither is Nash and we really have to slow it up just a tad more. Smush needs to pick up Steve or attempt a move towards him earlier then he currently is as Nash is getting momentum. We’re still good but we’re halfway between our game and their game and thus it’s ANYONE’S game.

  18. Is it me or was that not that hard a foul by Luke?

  19. That was a pretty hard foul. But it sends a message.

    I hate the guys on celll phones who wave behind the announcers,

  20. Suns 5 of 8 from thrree point range in the firstm we;ve got to defend that better. Also, slow the pace, the Lakers are rushing some shots.

  21. What’s the verdict on the first quarter? (I don’t have the game on, just following the score.) Five Laker starters already headed for double figures. Is this indicative of a good effort all around or misleading?

  22. I need a feed to each players head….”slow it down, bang inside, punish them on the boards, DON’T FREAKIN RUN!”

  23. Still too many shots outside. Need to bring it in and make them tired. How do you not study film for a game and keep this in mind during a game is beyond me.

  24. Where did everyone go?!

  25. Right here…I think I’m just sitting in happily stunned silence after watching Kwame assertively post up on either block.

  26. WorthyTomahawk April 28, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Its exhausting just watching the game. I’m glad we got Tim Thomas in foul trouble already.

  27. Inlaws are over right now, slowing my efforts way dwon. But I’m here.

  28. 48 first half possessions, way too many. I think the under/over of 94 is in danger. Thank god the Suns aren’t shooting well.

    The Lakers slowed it down the last half of the second quarter and look what happened, they pulled father away.

  29. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    speechless

  30. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    like seeing smush taking it to the hole…neds to do that more often
    young sasha is having the game of his life!

  31. Why, Why did I choose to listen to Waltoin?

  32. Kwame is setting great screens.

  33. Our passing is amazing. The suns are just shooting well.

  34. Shaq….no longer the worst officiated player in the league.

  35. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    Lamar has to get his confiidence back, missed 3 out of 4 freethrows, we need him to be playin aggressive! Kobe’s gotta keep going to him, make him play through it

  36. What’s with the porn behind D. Fish?

  37. Kwame….getting….Kwame chants?

    Who would have thought THAT at the beginning of the year?

  38. I love posting up Smush on Nash, let’s go back to that.

  39. Another close one. At least the Lakes cut down on the 3-point shot last quarter.

  40. Count me in the “I didn’tt think Kwame would get here this fast” group. Not sure he was going to at all, really.

  41. Also, stop going under the high pick and roll with Nash. He;s hit two threes that way.

    OT: Did you guys seen the news about Steve Howe? Sad.

  42. Wow…runs to start quarters consistently now! Amazing…

    Honestly, cut the head (Nash) and this team dies….keep him frustrating and Sasha sure knows how to do that.

  43. Enter Brian Grant?

  44. That was a HUGE win! The Suns made a few changes but the bottom line is the Lakers have taken them out of what they want to do and the players that could change it are sitting on the bench in street clothes.

  45. And the Lakers slowed it down, 92 possessions total in the game. The under/over of 94 holds.

  46. Yep — Suns don’t seem to have any answers.

  47. I love to see kobe playing big brother to the team.

  48. And the rest are sitting there with their heads hung looooooooooooooow.

  49. So the question I ask…can the Suns respond enough to scare us?

  50. chris henderson April 28, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    wow…what a game…great D at the end…
    nice win Lakers

  51. The Suns are staying close every game so they still scare me. We got 58 points in the paint, but we didn’t take it to their bigs when they got into foul trouble.

  52. What did you guys think of the foul situation? I didn’t see any posts anywhere about it, anything sketchy or biased? I didn’t think so but you can just never tell anymore i feel like, EVERY close call always gets poeple complaining

  53. Anyone else get the feeling that Kwame is going to be suspended for Sunday’s game?

  54. Kwame got the personal and Raja got the technical, so i think refs didn’t see anything flagrant in the foul.

  55. Kwame got the technical and Bell got the personal.

  56. The best part is that the Lakers still have room to improve. If the Lakers can settle down — despite the pumped-up crowd — and not have those lapses where they increase their pace and take too many long jumpers, they can get the job done in the next two or three games.

    Especially if Tim Thomas has to sit out! That would be a horrible blow for the already big-body-deficient Suns. The worst part is that he knocked knees with his own teammate. Nash better start earning that MVP award — otherwise, he should just decline it and pass it on to the player who will soon be formerly known as The Ocho.

    Go Lakers!

  57. What was the play involving Kwame getting the technical?

  58. chris henderson April 29, 2006 at 8:58 am

    I think the league would have to look closely at the play, (4th qtr, Bell was draped over Kwame after he blocked his shot, both were trying to get to the loose ball) I felt Bell did some acting. of course Kwame showed brute strength, tossing him like a fly, but it was kind of like Bell rolled with it to try to sell the foul.
    if Kwame got in any kind of trouble, it would be for the pose he struck after tossing him, stood over him, and that’s where he got the taunting foul…
    but I don’t think he should get any kind of suspension.

  59. The league will look, but this was not nearly as blatent as what Posey or Haslam did. This was a physical play in the course off a game. I think Chris is right, the technical was for the posing, but that’s not a suspension.

    Unless you’re into conspiracy theories….

  60. notreallyimportant April 29, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    You know its kinda funny, with the way the suns don’t have anyone over 6-10, Kwame looks a little like shaq out there.

  61. yeah, i was concerned about kwame getting suspended too, just because of how it looked in comparison to the other two suspensions that came down the pike this week. i figured the league probably wouldn’t hinder the lakers chances of advancing though. suns play a fun style, but l.a. is a much bigger market.

    still, i’d feel a lot better if chris was back. even in his weakened condition, he could probably come in off the bench and throw a few hooks over boris diaw.

    lord do i love how everyone’s getting to share the ball, proving to every jackass commentator this is not a talentless team. so awesome. to see these guys come into their own…man, this is easily one of my favorite seasons.

    that said, and being one of the biggest supporters of this team’s potential as a whole… i also feel a lot better when kobe is more of a scorer. his game 2 was perfection.

    but hey, if he wants to pass all the livelong day, i guess i should enjoy it. besides the turnovers, it was gorgeous.