Heads up Spurs fans! Seriously, that's an order. Did you really think this playoff run would be easy? If so, you must have tuned out for large portions of our regular season. These are not the 2007 Spurs. Or even the up and coming 2003 squad. These guys are a mostly veteran crew that are going to take the long road to victory, shortening our lives in the process. Enjoy it. Not every championship season is built the same and this one will be quite unique from the prior four. I'm going to enjoy this comeback more than most of our dominant series from yesteryear.
First, tip your cap to the Suns. This is an unfamiliar feeling but deserved nonetheless. They executed better in game 1, and then out-hustled our Spurs in game 2. Yes, some of this may be home court related, as young and role players play better at home. It is also most likely that most of this was born out of respect for our squad, as this Suns team fully understood that anything less than 100% and then some, would result in a home loss and a likely unrecoverable series deficit. That's how much they fear our team and respect our resume. Perhaps it's time we give them the same due. Go visit their blog and congratulate them on winning their first two home games. It means a lot to them, yet we know this story is far from over. We've been here before and many of them do not know better. Let the rivalry form.
Second, let out a collective roar of anger throughout PtR nation. The NBA offices had enough worry about this series being cut short that they put infamous home ref Bennett Salvatore, he of the infamous game 1 last round between the Spurs and Mavs, to assist Phoenix in their home victory. They then sent anti-Spur and Duncan hater Joey T. Crawford for game 2. Yes, he allowed Amare to camp out in the lane while calling Duncan for three seconds. He also allowed Amare to blatantly rake Duncan across the arms in the first quarter, costing the Spurs two FTs and giving Phoenix a fast-break 3-pt shot. As a happy finish, he even let Nash shove off twice on Parker in the 3rd quarter, just to let us know what his presence represented. But we knew this was coming and we could only win by executing, which did not happen. Suns fans are now full of bluster and confidence. On second thought, don't congratulate them too much. Just keep our mouths closed and know that there is something great ahead for us, and heartbreaking for them. Believe that this series will even out. Let the hatred build.
Now, remove the less than stellar officiating and homer bias we have for our team. No one in orange and purple made Bonner miss those wide open 3s. Nor made Hill screw up a two-on-one fast-break. Bogans not boxing out Dudley, and choosing to instead stare at rebounds, has everything to do with us and not them. Certainly no one wearing Los Suns is making our Spurs miss FTs. Our team has made an uncountable number of self-inflicted mistakes in these first two games. Fortunately, these are correctable. It is my opinion, however, that the Suns deserve credit for their execution on offense and overall effort in both games. They've out-hustled our guys. They wanted the rebounds more. They've made their open 3-pt shots, as professional players are supposed to do. They deserve that respect, as they have done what they set out to do and taken what we've given them. What else are they supposed to do? Have some respect.
Finally, we may lose this series. That should scare you. This Suns team is not superior to the Spurs, but we've been defeated by lesser opponent before. Every year has not ended in a championship and we've seen some slightly lesser teams earn the extra break it needed (LAL 2004, Dallas 2006) to gain a series win. This team has some very likable players that surround our Big-3. Dyce wants his first championship. George Hill and DeJuan Blair are our future. Rich-J brings an element we've not had. Bonner let's us all believe that if any of us were a bit taller we could play in the NBA. The Suns have closed the gap and will take advantage of any poor play on our part so this series will have to be won by San Antonio, not lost by Phoenix. It's time that we as fans join our team in giving our opponent the appropriate fear that Pop has often spoken of when facing a team. No arrogance. No referencing our past or leaning on our resume.
I still feel quite confident in the ability of our Spurs to win this series. It's not about winning four of five. It's about winning game 3. Then game 4. When the pressure heats up in game 5, earn the lead by taking it from Phoenix, not stealing it. Phoenix is a franchise that has been heart-broken in this spot before, including blowing a 2-0 and 3-1 series lead to those veteran champion 6-seed Rockets of 1995, a team whose run I have expected this Spurs squad to emulate. They even lost a 2-0 lead in '94 when they won both on the road. Have some confidence my fellow PtR people; not arrogance, but deserved confidence. Should you find yourself feeling down, remember 2009 when we had no Manu. That's a real head hanger. Remember the various times this season it was suspected the Spurs might not make the playoffs and could not defeat those top teams in their end of season stretch. These guys stepped up and proved that wrong. Hold our head high and know that the arena will rock with venom this weekend, as the fans now know that we have a worthy rival standing in the way of our fifth championship. Perhaps the Suns will crumble under our pressure, but let's not expect it. Appreciate this run, as others envy our position as it's never guaranteed to happen again. Let's root our team on with an expectation of winning this series, regardless of the negativity and pessimism that is sure to show itself in the next 48 hours. Stay humble, think positive and enjoy the ride. Display the poise we expect from our players. The team is coming home and will need out energy. We. Got. This.