Sonics, Suns give fans of fast break a run for their money
Let's play seven. Let's hook up these teams — Phoenix and Seattle — in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs....
Seattle Times staff columnist
Let's play seven.
Let's hook up these teams — Phoenix and Seattle — in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Let's add some juice to May. Turn it into a drag race. Prove, once and for all, that teams can play fast — and win — in the postseason.
Let's bring back "Showtime" to the big time. Change the belief that basketball in the spring has to be all halfcourt sets and 83-78 final scores.
Let's get back to school — old school. Back to the 1970s and '80s, when guards like Gus Williams and Magic Johnson, Doug Collins and Danny Ainge pushed the ball up the floor and got off shots before the defenses were set.
I mean, a best-of-seven series between these two teams? How good would that be?
Let's play seven. Let's play fast.
"It would be great for the league," said Steve Nash, Phoenix's point guard extraordinaire. "Two exciting teams. Two teams, I think, the fans really enjoy watching. It would be great."
The Suns come off the bus running, and they aren't going to stop for anybody. They're going to set the tempo. Even if you score at your end, they're coming right back at you.
Rashard Lewis hit a three, and six seconds later Phoenix point guard Leandro Barbosa answered with a layup. Seattle's Luke Ridnour made a steal and a layup, and six seconds later Quentin Richardson hit a three.
It was classic Lakers basketball. Like Magic Johnson punishing you even after you've done something well.
"This is the way we're going to play, as long as we can, as long as I'm here," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said after the Suns had beaten the Sonics 110-99. "Every year it should be that way. We like to play that game; now are we good enough? I don't know. We're young.
"But I don't think the style of play is wrong. I just have a hard time believing that when I was growing up and watching the Lakers and 'Showtime' that it was all a mirage. They did win, didn't they? A lot. Do we have Magic Johnson and Kareem? No, but we've got some of the best players in the league."
They have Nash, a point guard meant to run. In his six years in Dallas, he tried to run the Mavericks into the NBA Finals and never got there. It wasn't his fault.
These Suns are better than those Mavericks. They have Amare Stoudemire, the inside presence Dallas never had. They can score more different ways.
"Dallas doesn't have finishers like we do," uber finisher Stoudemire said. "We've got Steve Nash, who can get guys the ball. We have finishers and we have shooters. So it's tough to guard us."
And Phoenix plays tough, lock-up defense like Dallas never has.
"The difference is defense," said Nash, who scored 12 points and dished 10 assists. "We've gone on stretches like in January and February where we didn't play much defense, but we've proven we can play it. When we play defense, we're a tough team to beat, and there's no way that's going to change for the playoffs."
Last night, KeyArena was buzzing like it was 1996. No lead felt safe. Even when the Suns pulled ahead 97-81 with seven minutes left, people stayed. And Ray Allen scored on an offensive rebound and followed with a layup and made four three throws. And Antonio Daniels scored on a three-point play.
The lead was down to 99-92 with almost four minutes left, and you could almost taste what it would be like inside the building in a couple of months.
These two running teams have won 87 games between them in this regular season, and they aren't going to change in May. The only difference in last night's game was the shooting. The Sonics were 3 for 27 on three-pointers. Phoenix was 10 of 17. The Suns shot 50 percent through the first three quarters.
"Look at how we play," counseled forward Shawn Marion, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds. "We run on turnovers, missed shots and made shots. So you can't stop us from running. As far as I'm concerned, you have to run. It's part of the game.
"It's just a matter of how fast you run. We're going to push it regardless. With us, we're going to run all night. It's just a matter of deciding whether we're going to run at 100 miles an hour, or 110 miles an hour."
Rev up the engines. Ignite the fast breaks. Let's get these two teams together in May, start a new form of madness two months after March.
Let's play seven. Let's play fast.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or email@example.com
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
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