Reading through yesterday's post game quotes, two items caught my attention.
Amare Stoudemire said, “I think we played well enough to win. We played solid defensively, we rebounded the ball well, we played upside defense and did everything we could and had to, to win. Unfortunately, (Roger Mason) hit a three in the corner. It happens sometimes.” In a vacuum, this is correct. But the problem here is not a "sometimes" issue; this is an "all the time" issue. The game doesn't exist in a vacuum, and the Suns squandering opportunities to beat the Spurs is something of a running joke--the "that's what she said" of professional basketball. I'm obviously a Spurs guy, so I get a perverse joy from listening to the record skip. If I were a Phoenix fan, however, I'd be angry, but not at the Spurs. That's too easy. At some point, Phoenix fans just have to call their team out for not having the gall/guile/moxie/dial-a-cliche--balls?--to put the Spurs down. Let's move beyond the tired whiz-bang machinery of excuse-making. It's time. Bruce Bowen has left the building.
This leads to the second quote. Speaking of a moment late in the game, Tim Duncan reports, "That was a specific line that he (Popovich) used, ‘it will probably come down to one play in this game’ and it did come down to that." If one wonders how the Spurs manage to devastate the Suns with such frequency, this is undoubtedly part of the equation. Pop coaches composure into his squad; he allows them to prepare for the big moment minutes before it arrives. Popovich may not be a Zen Master, but he is a masterclass coach. This is a classic example of that psychological aspect of elite coaching which separates the gold from the dross. Or, if you will, this is the thing that separates the Spurs from the Suns.