So those wild and crazy Golden State Warriors breeze past the Jazz and report to Phoenix for the Western Conference semifinals and what do they find? A team that looks just like them.
If the Warriors tried to avoid meeting Phoenix instead of the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs by losing to Denver on the last weekend of the regular season, they have to face the Suns now. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is today (1:30 p.m. MDT) in Veterans Memorial Coliseum.This series will show us if the Warriors really are as hot as the Jazz were claiming this week in self-defense, or if the Jazz did themselves in while being swept in the first-round series. Just the same, the Jazz are not basing their self-image on what the Warriors do in the rest of the playoffs.
"I'm going to hope they do very, very well," said general manager David Checketts. "I hope they do what Seattle did after beating Dallas (in 1987), going to the conference finals. If they don't, I'm not going to worry about it."
While the Jazz-Warriors series was a classic contrast in lineups and styles, Golden State and Phoenix are high-scoring clones. Unlike the Jazz, the Suns can match up with just about any of the Warriors' unconventional lineups and outscore them if they have to.
The Jazz's John Stockton, for one, figures the Warriors lose a big edge when they have to play somebody resembling themselves. "I don't forsee them having a lot of success against Phoenix," Stockton said. "They're very good at what they do; however, Phoenix plays the same style, and has more guns."
With forward-center Tom Chambers and point guard Kevin Johnson leading the way, the Suns are coming off a first-round sweep of Denver. They needed two free throws from Chambers in the last three seconds to win Game 1 at home and a big second-half rally against a the shorthanded Nuggets in Game 3, but still easily advanced to the semifinals.
Chambers had 32 points in Game 3, scoring 15 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter after making 1 of 9 shots in the first half. "(Chambers) has been our backbone all season long," said Johnson, who's actually considered the Suns' MVP. "We knew it was just a matter of time. On this team, he can keep shooting and get back on track."
The Suns were 4-2 against Golden State this season - scoring 141, 139, and 154 points in three easy wins. After brushing off the Jazz, the Warriors' Chris Mullin downplayed Coach Don Nelson's pre-series contention that winning would take a miracle. Mullin did say, "The next series might take a miracle."
Said Nelson, "One miracle is about all we can expect . . . But we're playing extremely well right now."