2nd Round Series Preview: [3] Phoenix Suns vs. [7] San Antonio Spurs - The NeXt Men

Foreword: The PtR "staff" is once again putting their mutant powers together to come up with the nerdiest of all series previews. Hopefully the Spurs can keep on advancing so we can do more of these and scare people off the site. Just kidding. Or maybe we're not. Either way, you're stuck with us and this post.

Now that The Return of the Manu is complete, the Spurs move on to face yet another familar foe - the Run 'N Gun, Seven Seconds or Less, Silver-and-Black Beaten Phoenix Suns. But wait -- as Tim C. said in his preview to the preview, these aren't the Suns we know. Oh yeah? Well, let us counter the Suns fans with the exact same argument -- these aren't the Spurs you know.

Our second round story begins with a bunch of supposedly ordinary basketball players, who, as the season progressed, got to discover a lot more of themselves. For the younger ones, they found out about powers they never knew they had. And for a few veterans, as age came into play, they learned how to harness their talents in other ways to remain effective, all while also having to integrate the new guys into their respective systems.

So while each side is peppered with new recruits, somehow, the essence of these two teams remain, which might prove yet again the old proverb "the more things change, the more they stay the same." But really, do they? We shall see, after the jump.

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We knew these guys were freaks.

I think some loud, pump-you-up music is in order while reading along.


The Heroes

Almost every superhero story revolves around the battle of good vs. evil, but oftentimes, this is a slippery slope to examine. On one hand, we have the X-Men, who form an organized lot wanting to preserve the pureness of Naismith's teachings and preach the fundamentals of basketball and team play.

Their opponents describe them as disciplined and go about their business in a machine-like way, helped by numerous training sessions in the danger room and supervised by the man known as Popfessor X:

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"I think I can grab a glass or two while the team is out on a mish."

While Pop-X can't really go out and play because of his legs, old age and perennial drunkenness, the X-Men are led into battle by their quiet but fearless leader, Timclops. While patience and stoicism are some of his most revered virtues in battle, his eyes are what's considered his best asset -- eyes which contain pure energy to stare down the Crawfords of the world and to give referees the "Who, me?" look and force them into swallowing their whistles.

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"I see you... Joey."

In every team there is always a spitfire, the wild child who likes to do things his way inciting fury to the coach but also gains his approval when these primal instincts save the team from the jaws of defeat. Manuwolverine is one such mutant who thrives in the thrill of competition and provides the team with a killer instinct. His healing powers may have slowed with age, but this hasn't prevented the man from continuing to fight the good fight.

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"Prepare to die, bub."

Another integral member is Le Frenchcrawler, a flashy mutant who uses his blinding speed to burst through enemy defenses.

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Yellow is the color of Hollywood.

The group also has a young hero who has emerged in the heat of these playoff battles. Ice Hill played without fear and stared down the big bad ugly Mavericks, hitting big shot after big shot to suck the life out of their foes. As the series progresses, it is crucial to observe whether the ice in this kid's veins will melt in the heat brought about by the Suns.

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Heir to the Ice Thrown.

Every team needs an enforcer to clean up the mess and try to slow down the big, tough guys of the opposition. Good thing the X-Men have the steel-coated McDyessus for that.

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Let the bodies hit the floor.

And of course, the Beast of the bunch known only as BLLLLAAAAAIIIIRRRR.

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You knew it was coming.

Gambichard is, as his name suggests, a risky move made by Pop-X in an effort to inject athleticism and young legs in an otherwise fading group. The gamble hasn't exactly paid off as expected during the regular season, but slowly, this volatile, much-maligned mutant is slowly starting to fit in and perform well. Also, he likes women but can't seem to stick too long with one.

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"I raise you three aces and an alley-oop, mon ami."

Rounding up the heroes and one who is seen to have a better time this series compared to the last is Matty Bonner-Grey. Bonner-Grey uses his telekinetic powers to shoot his long distance three-pointers to the hoop. But while he hustles a lot on every mission, foes see him as a softie and often take the hero down first. However, it is said that a dark, evil power resides inside him, which might only be unlocked with the help of Phoenix...

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Superhero costumes can be deceiving.


The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants

While their name suggests evil, the team does not believe they are truly so. In fact, the Brotherhood insists they are here to use their mutant-ness to make the league a better place through fast-paced, SSOL-style basketball. To this group, offense is their defense, and they do it with such flair and bravado that other mutants are swayed to this kind of basketball philosophy (although some fail at imitating it -- see: New York Knicks).

The Brotherhood is led by Nashtique, a shapeshifter who has managed to imbue his style of play in his team despite the changing personnel. Nashtique's battlefield savvy and keen eyes allow him to set his teammates up for easy buckets, but he is also considered a defensive liability with his frail body and long, floppy hair.

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Avatar got nothing on his blueness.

Supporting Nash is M'a'g'n'e't'o, who thinks he should be the top dog of the group. This mentality has often brought disarray in the brotherhood but 'Neto has managed to keep it in check so far this season, and has focused on sucking the ball in with his magnetic powers and putting points on the board. Despite his amazing skills, 'Neto refuses to utilize it for defense, instead wanting to focus on making people realize that his individual powers can single-handedly earn him a championship.

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Magnetic ego.

Other members of the Brotherhood include Toadley, an annoying character who likes to Tweet but is deadly accurate from distance, using his icky tongue to guide the ball to the basket.

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A little tongue action right there. Yuck.

A wildcard who we may or may not see in this battle is Robintooth (not Robin Hood), a large and furry man who puts the hustle and hard work in the Brotherhood's schemes.

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Fangs. They're scary. Or at least they're supposed to be.

Lastly, this mutant is widely regarded as the X-factor in this war, the flammable Pyrichardson. He is capable of launching a fireball barrage of threes, which can single-handedly turn the series. A true personification of the warning: do not play with fire.

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No "Flame On" needed.

Who will triumph in this battle of familiar yet unfamiliar foes? Let the Mutant Wars begin! And oh yeah, let's hope Sternpocalypse and his minions won't have to decide this series.

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And now, on to the preview.

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San Antonio Spurs @ Phoenix Suns
Where: US Airways Center - Phoenix, AZ
When: May 3, 2010, 9:30 PM Spurs time
Watch: TNT

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How They Stack Up

Playoffs

3-0 Home 2-1
1-2
Road 2-1
93.3
Offense 103.3
92.8
Defense 93.0
45.9 FG% 47.2
32.1 3-pt% 39.2
70.5 FT% 77.9
41.8 Rebounds 40.8
12.3 TOs 11.8
4-2
Last Series
4-2
Won 1
Streak Won 2

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 11:30 PM
West Coast/AZ
7:30 PM
Philippines 10:30 AM
Central Europe 4:30 AM
Palestine/Egypt 5:30 AM
East Coast 10:30 PM
Mountains 8:30 PM
Perth, AUS 10:30 AM
Tokyo, JP 11:30 AM
Sydney, AUS 12:30 PM

Spurs
(4-2)
Matchups

Suns
(4-2)

George Hill

Point Guard

Georgie sure proved himself in the last series against the Mavs. Rest of the NBA, I'd like to introduce you to the Big 4th. And he plays defense (hello, Stevie). You can fire your scouts now, m10rs.

Not only is Nash funny, but even in his old age, he still runs the best offense in the League. Unfortunately for him this year, he'll actually have to defend someone. Good luck with that, Floppy.

Advantage: Suns


Steve Nash

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Manu Ginobili

Shooting Guard

Manu. After Dirk cruelly broke your schnozz, you were a little less than perfect, but still productive. I expect three days of rest will do wonders for your nasal injury. Thank goodness your broken nose didn't affect your FT shooting.

JRich had a hell of a series against the Blazers. I'm a little skeptical that he can keep it up, especially when he has to chase a healthy Manu around. Just a hint, JRich, he's left-handed! (The Mavs never figured that out.)

Advantage: Spurs


Jason Richardson

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Richard Jefferson

Small Forward

Although RJ has continued his schizophrenic ways on the offensive end, he no longer is mentally handicapped on the defensive end. Just continue your solid defense and great hustle. We're going to need you and Hill to shut down the perimeter.

Grant Hill, you are old, but apparently you're the center of the defense for the Suns. I'm giving you the edge just based upon that block you had against Bayless (although Dice's was better).

Advantage: Suns


Grant Hill

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Tim Duncan

Power Forward

Timmeh's had rest, which is good since this series schedule is much tighter. We need him to hit a few shots early, so that the pick 'n roll can to perfection. And it wouldn't hurt if Timmeh could get above 50% on his FTs.

Apostrophe is going to get his, but let's try to prevent him from getting his teammates involved. I wouldn't mind a few Jedi mind tricks by Pop either.

Advantage: Tied


A'm'a'r'e Stoudemire

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Antonio McDyess

Center

Dice - the Possum. Seriously, he's putting Horry to shame. We (the fans) had heard you were a 2nd half of the season player, but I had no idea SAM could flip the switch like this. Dirk is still having nightmares.

I didn't bother to research Collins - it's not worth it. He's just a body, and a pretty crappy ballplayer.

Advantage: Spurs


Jarron Collins

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Tony Parker

Bench & Role Players

Tony has really adapted to his role as the 6th Man. Plus, I expect Blair to thrive more against the smaller Suns. And it would be nice if Matty could actually hit a 3 ball.

The Suns have a deeper bench than in years past, with Frye and Dudley adding productive minutes. However, without the Geico Caveman available (at least for the first couple of games), the paint should be open for business to the Spurs.

Advantage: Tied


Leandro Barbosa

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Gregg Popovich

Coach

Extraneous G owns the day, at least according to Rand, and I'm not inclined to disagree with his Conspiracy Theory.

Advantage: Spurs


Alvin Gentry
images via yahoo.com

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Other Factors

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Intangibles

Both teams finished their previous foes off in 6 games and have had 3 days of rest.

Advantage: Tied

Mojo

I'm changing things up a bit - everyone makes their own mojo. But FFS, please don't break Rule #1. I'm not asking for much.

Advantage: Spurs

Winner:

I've predicted the Spurs to win in every game this postseason. I'm nothing, if not a crazy loyal fan.

Keys To The Game

  • Defense - The Suns bring the league's most efficient offense to the table - we have to slow them down. We need to continue the strong defensive presence we had against the Mavs, especially on the defensive boards and on the 3-pt line.
  • Protect the Ball - The Suns are extremely opportunistic. We cannot afford to turn the ball over and allow Nash and company to get easy points in transition.
  • 3 Pt Shooting - Against the Mavs, we couldn't hit the broad side of the barn beyond the arc. Against the Suns, we need to hit the open shots (and there should be open corner pockets).
  • FT Shooting - Can someone hit a freaking free throw? Pop doesn't need his own car dealership.

Last Time They Met

The last time these two teams met was on April 7. We lost 101-112, but this is the playoffs. It's a totally different ball game, folks.

Strength of Schedule

This is Game 1 of the series. The Spurs and Suns haven't played since closing out their first round series on Thursday, so rest won't be a problem for this first game. However, this series (until Game 7) is scheduled for only one day off between games, so rest could come into play throughout the series.

Some Other Reading

Suns

Bright Side of the Sun - These guys are our SBN siblings for Phoenix, and they do a phenomenal job.

Valley of the Suns - Here's the TrueHoop blog dedicated to the Suns. These other teams' THN blogs seem to be getting better over time, which is a very encouraging sign. Worth the read.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: Speaking of THN blogs, Tim, Graydon, Jessie and Andrew are still the best.
Project Spurs: Good Bloguin blog with lots of good content. Be sure to check out their podcasts and live chats.

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be on TNT, but for those who don't have access, you might want to read on below...

Online

As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. You know, when we're not at the games.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to poundingtherockmail@yahoo.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

The Credits

Preview by CapHill
Photoshops and story by completely_deck, LatinD, silverandblack_davis, and Tim C.
Character suggestions and ideas from all of the above, plus jollyrogerwilco.

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