Ever have trouble remembering your locker combination after Spring Break? 32-28-13 ... or, wait, was it 28-23-31... or wait, damn, I can’t remember.
That’s sort of how I’m feeling about the Sonics these days. I know there’s a bunch of stuff that will have to be sorted out this summer, not the least of which is where the team will be playing a few years from now, but all those issues are beginning to fade from my short-term memory.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at tonight’s wonderful matchup between the Clippers and Suns. It’s Game 5, baby, and the winner of the series will be in the Final Four (or, as Bill Rancik wisely put it last night on The Apprentice after the fifth-to-last contestant was voted off, “There’s only four left!” Now, that’s the kind of sage mathematical advice we’re looking for!).
The Suns are five point favorites at home, but nobody really knows how this game will turn. The teams have traded wins through four games, each accommodating the other in a very Canadian way. Everybody knows that Game 5s are crucial affairs, though, especially for the team without home-court advantage. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about this series thus far:
1. Steve Nash is the 4th-leading scorer for the Suns through 4 games.
2. Boris Diaw is averaging more assists per game than anyone on the Clippers.
3. LA is out-rebounding Phoenix by nearly 15 a game.
4. While Raja Bell’s been lights-out from beyond the arc, he’s the only Suns player hitting his 3’s. Marion, Nash, Barbosa, and Thomas are all below 30%.
5. The Suns really only have 6 guys contributing on offense, while the Clippers have 8; this has to become a factor as the series wears on.
6. Does anyone know what Eddie House did to tick off Mike D’Antoni? After being a regular contributor during the season, he’s a ghost in the playoffs – especially against LA.
7. Corey Maggette’s scoring figures through five games: 23, 20, 2, 7, 18. Maybe he’s been hanging around Radman too much.
Add it all up and I’m liking the Clippers tonight – but only if Kaman is ready to go and capable of playing regular minutes. Sooner or later the Suns are going to hit their shots, and at home the emphasis has to be on the former. Still, their lack of depth is alarming, especially when Nash isn’t hitting his shots. The Clippers are doing a wonderful job on defending the 2-time MVP and forcing his teammates to hit jumpers. Rather than doubling on Nash when he drives the paint, they’re staying with their man, preventing Nash from dishing to open teammates. It’s working, and I think it’ll work again tonight.
My prediction: Clippers 102-Suns 95. And, remember, after Game 5, the next game is Game 6!