Friday, April 25, 2008

Fighting the urge

After the home team wins the first two games of a series, Game 3, especially between evenly matched foes, often goes to the team trailing 2-0. Why? Well, human nature is the biggest reason. Call it desperation vs. relaxation, two characteristics that are impossible to simulate (except maybe with the help of hypnosis or something else clinical; just a guess). They're either present of they're not. Coaches love to say, "Let's play like the series is even," even though it's 2-0. It sounds OK, but nobody is able to do it.

Usually it's tough to beat desperation, especially when that desperation is combined with the comfort of a home crowd and familiar surroundings. Thus far, Toronto, Dallas and Washington -- all fueled by desperation -- won easily in Game 3. Atlanta and Denver will attempt to get back into their respective series tomorrow.

What, however, happened to Phoenix? The Suns also began last night in the 0-2 hole and expected to begin the climb back. Instead, the Spurs led tip-to-buzzer, building a double-digit lead in the first quarter and coasting in the second half, easily dispatching the Suns, 115-99.

For San Antonio, winner of three of the past five NBA titles (roads dotted with impressive performances), this one just might have been the most impressive. The Spurs relentlessly abused the Suns and Shaquille O'Neal in the pick-and-roll game, precisely defended, most notably against Steve Nash (3-for-8 from the field, seven points, nine assists), never let up, and were perfectly unemotional, which helped negate some of the Suns' desperation.

Now, with a 3-0 choke-hold on the series, can the Spurs methodically do it one more time? Do the Suns have any fight left?