Jazz-Suns will be the BEST Playoff Series Ever!

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By Paul M. Banks

PHOENIX, AZ- Utah’s 116-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns Thursday night felt like a playoff precursor of exciting things to come. The high-scoring affair saw Utah race back from ten points down in the fourth quarter and it put the Jazz 1.5 games ahead of Phoenix in the Western Conference playoff race. If current standings hold, the Jazz would have home court advantage in a first round playoff match-up against these same Suns that would undoubtedly be the most exciting pairing of all.

The individual matchup between Phoenix’s Steve Nash and Utah’s Deron Williams could be the deciding factor of that hypothetical series. Whoever rises up to win what will be a much ballyhooed battle of the point guards will likely propel his team forward to face a daunting task in the #1 seeded Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. will of course have to get past the #8 seed, possibly the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder, first. But the winner of the Jazz-Suns series may be the “toughest out” the Lakers will have to deal with out West; the “team no one wants to play” as the cliche goes.

Jazz coach Jerry Sloan knows his team’s success hinges on Deron’s leadership.”He was terrific, I thought he played a terrific game, he got the ball and got us in our offense where we needed to go,” Sloan said.

Williams led Utah in scoring and assists with a 27, 9 and also connected on 5-9 from distance. The last trey, with 1:37 left in regulation, gave his team the lead for good; capping a rally that saw Utah outscore Phoenix 41-22 in the 4th quarter. “This is our second comeback on them, in the fourth. So let’s keep finding ways to win. But we can’t afford to keep living on the edge, living dangerously, sometimes you get down and you can’t get back. This is one game where we were fortunate enough to get it going in the fourth,” Williams said postgame.

D. Will’s clutch trifecta was reminiscent of another big one he hit in the 2005 NCAA regional final while at Illinois. It was again versus a team from Arizona, and again the significant turning point in a huge comeback within a very meaningful game.

On the other side, Phoenix’s Steve Nash, a two time league MVP, had a big game of his own with 14 points and 15 assists, although it was in a losing cause. Perhaps playing four games in five nights played a role. “It’s mentally and physically fatiguing to play at a deficit for so long. I can’t do the things I want to do, it’s painful. It’s not a lot of fun to play like this, but no one is going to feel sorry for you in the Western Conference,” Nash said after the game.

It doesn’t help Nash that his back and abdominal strains are both bothering him again. “I just got to battle and not let it get the best of me mentally,” Nash stated.

These two teams, and these two stellar point guards will meet again twice before the regular season concludes. And like Nash, Williams is also battling nagging aches and pains. “I want to play with nothing on it {his wrist}, but the brace makes it a little more stable, gives me a little more support…It helps me keep my wrist in line,” D. Will said.

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  1. It does sound exciting!!!

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