Out of all the major cities in the United States, Phoenix, Arizona is by far the hardest to spell. Houston is kind of weird because who sees that "o" coming? Our beloved San Antonio is no sweat. Spelling Minneapolis is an endurance challenge, yet it pretty much sounds like it is spelled. But Phoenix? What kind of a word is Phoenix? If pronounced exactly how it is spelled then it would sound like ‘pho" (as in Vietnamese noodle soup) e (as in eh) and then nix (as in... well I got nothing). That sounds less like a mythical bird and more like a super complicated way to spell phonics. A logical person would have spelled it "Pheenicks" or for you x lovers out there, fine, give it the alternate spelling Pheenix. "But hey man, that is how the Greeks spelled it so we should respect the name’s country of origin!" Stop it because in Greece it is spelled like this Φοίνιξ. The abomination that sits on every United States road map is a result of misguided transliteration. So I refuse to spell the word in that ridiculous manner. Send your complaints here.
Needless to say, the Pheenicks Suns have seen brighter days (Did you like that totally not cheesy pun? I got more. -- The Suns are fading. The Suns have a weak core. Pheenicks is looking dim these days. The Suns are about to about to collapse into a neutron star. OK, I’m done). The Suns were a once proud and fierce foe for our heroes in Silver and Black, but now they resemble the foot soldiers from Teenage Mutant Turtles. However in flux a team might be, there is no such thing as a guaranteed win in the association. So let’s see the ways this game can go to goodsville or how it can travel to shit town.
How the Spurs can comfortably win:
Tony Parker keeps doing what he has been doing.
Holy emperor penguins, has it been cool to watch Tony this season or what? If TP has a typical game (typical being a totally relative term here -- for the average person, Tony's "typical" game would be impossible to perform), then this will be a lock in the win column. Most teams in the NBA have not been able to handle him when he gets going, and the Suns don’t have the offensive talent to counter such a performance. For the Suns to have any kind of a chance, Tony will have to do something totally un-Tony-like. I don't see that happening, which is bad news for the Suns.
The bench comes to play.
As per usual in the Popovochian era, the Spur’s bench is beyond impressive. I am not talking about Manu. One could argue that Manu is a bench player but has also never been one. He is a label-less phenomenon. Sure, he steps in with the reserves but when the shit hits the fan, who is playing? The bench here refers to guys like Captain Jax, Diaw, Neal, Nando, Mills, Matty B, and DeJuan Blair. (He was awesome against the Mavs, which can only be a good thing.) If 5 of the Spurs bench players go up against 5 of the Suns bench (which doesn’t happen because life is not as organized and predictable as all that), they will likely meet Michael Beasley, Sebastain Telfair, Kendall Marshall, Wes Johnson, and Luke Zeller. I can say with confidence that if the Spurs bench puts in a strong effort, any of their opponents will be hard pressed to stop them. But against the Suns bench? Aside from Beasley (who I will get to later), this is like sending Barney the dinosaur to shake hands with a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The two teams put in typical performances.
If the Suns play like the 2012-2013 Suns and the Spurs play like the 2012-2013 Spurs, then this game is going to be rather one-sided. That's obvious, right? So no details are required.
The ways this game could be a close one:
If Michael Beasley blows up.
To set the record straight, I am not talking about spontaneous combustion. Though that would certainly be an interesting way to end an NBA career. "Who was Michael Beasley again?" "Wasn’t he the guy who suddenly burst into flames on live television while wearing a jersey that has the word Sun on it?" "Oh yeah, THAT Michael Beasley." As of late, when the Suns win, Bease puts in a solid line, but then sometimes he doesn’t, and then sometimes when Phoenix loses he has a good night, and then sometimes when Phoenix loses he plays for like 4 minutes and rains in a whooping total of 0 points.
What I am getting at is the Beasel (does anyone call him that?) is unpredictable. I don’t like unpredictable players, they are too, well... unpredictable. We don’t know if he is going to pour in 42 points like he did on November 10th, 2010 during a stormy and ominous night in Sacramento. (I have no idea if it was raining that night, it just sounds better that way.) We also don’t know if he is going to get into a match of fisticuffs with the Coyote during the national anthem. There is just no telling with this guy. So to me, he is the Suns' x-factor. If he has a stellar game then look out. because there are more reliable players to follow the Beasel's lead.
Stan Van Gundy is the coach of the Suns.
Alvin Gentry is no longer the coach of the Suns. There are a plethora of theories out there concerning why this happened. The most plausible theory out there is that Alvin Gentry is in fact an alien who came here under the guise of a basketball coach, yet his cover was blown by Giorgio Tsoukalos. Anyhow, assuming Lindsey Hunter is not their long term play-drawer, then the Suns are on the look out for a new coach. There is a long list of free agent coaches out there with much experience. The lengthy list includes: Avery Johnson, Stan Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan (question mark), Isiah Thomas (he does have experience) Scott Skiles, and any number of lesser known candidates. SVG is probably the best coach on this list. (This is assuming Phil Jackson is in fact retired as he keeps on saying) SVG is a master at taking players who have specific attributes and maxing out their potential. Exhibit A: Courtney Lee. SVG would be a good fit for the Suns as he would be for just about any struggling program. Odds are he won't be hired by the Suns. So the odds are miniscule that he will be spewing saliva in front of the Suns' bench tonight. However, if SVG is working his magic (no pun intended), then this game could be interesting.
The Suns' starting five are using coffee.
Muckraker and occasional basketball player Kendall Marshall was the first to leak the scandal to the whistle-blower website Twitter. Apparently, two Suns players bought designer coffee from some international drug cartel called "Starbucks". This controversy will obviously rock the NBA world. There are certain members of the Suns who are using excessive amounts of caffeine. When riding the brown stallion into the midnight hours, who knows what one is capable of? Whenever I play a game of roundball, my two liter thermos is not full of Gatorade or anything implausible like water. It is full of espresso so thick that it could also be used as a dental mold. I am curious who precisely among the Suns is using liquid stimuli. If it is Sebestain Telfair then we are good. However, the prospect of Luis Scola (noted Spur-killer #248) grabbing fifteen hundred rebounds in a substance-induced frenzy is a terrifying prospect indeed. Be sure to check the pupils of each Suns player to see who amongst them is guilty of hitting the Colombian brown.
This game does contain a few tricky elements. There is the fact that the Spurs are on the wrong side of a SEGABABA. There is the fact that the Suns are undefeated under their new coach. Then there is the fact that Coach Pop is still recovering from the latest attempt by David Stern to turn him into a zombie (This is a long story. The NBA laboratories have unsuccessfully tried to make a real life version of the zombie virus. They try out the latest strain on Gregg Popovich each year right before the All-Star game for some reason. However, the closest they have come to manufacturing a zombie epidemic is a moderately inconvenient version of the common cold. The NBA laboratories also tried to splice the DNA of Hakeem Olajuwon with Wilt Chamberlain's genes; yet, somehow a strand of Bill Murray's hair got into the mixture and voila, JaVale McGee was born).
So yeah, the Suns just cranked out impressive wins against the Sacramento Kings and the Paul-less Clippers. However, the Suns arguably face their first real test in the Lindsey Hunter era. Chris Paul changes the Clips in every facet of the game, and the Kings are, well, the Kings.The Spurs should be able to post up another win, advancing their quest to be perched atop the Western Conference, but more importantly, sending Coach Pop to the All-Star Game along with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
Wait a minute... OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS TEAM DOING MAKING POP GO TO THE ASG???
Key Bench Players
The Suns' perspective can be found here @ The Bright Side of the Sun.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 11.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and 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. 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.