I attended this game with a pretty good seat. About 10 rows behind the Suns bench. I don’t often get to be that close to the floor, but when I am there is always a couple things that stand out compared to watching on television.
First, and foremost, the players are big and the game is physical. They really beat the hell out of each other out there. Gortat and Scola are both really physical guys and Boris and Tiago were giving it back just as much. But, it isn’t just the bigs. P.J. Tucker, Jared Dudley, Stephen Jackson, Kawhi, Shannon Brown, and Danny Green are all very physical players. Hell, even little Tony really bangs. It really gives you an appreciation for how skilled the refs are at calling contact as a foul in a semi-consistent manner.
Speaking of refs, I’m starting to like Zach Zarba more and more. Is he an ass? Yes. But, I’ll say this. He doesn’t let guys bitch at him the whole game. Voice your complaint and move along. He isn’t going to let a player stand there and argue with him. It really helps keep the game moving. He did, however, let Jack yell at him without T’ing him up. Jack gave a “C’mon Zach, that’s a damn foul” sort of yell and slapped his hands. Zach pointed up court, Jack ran up court, and that was that. The coaches and players may not like it, but I certainly appreciate it as a fan. “Shut Up And Play” should be the NBA’s catchphrase for next year.
As for the game, Tony was phenomenal. He made some of the fastest slickest moves imaginable. The way he tore the Suns up in the paint and around the rim was otherworldly. Of course, I’m not telling you anything you didn’t know if you watched the game.
Watching Tiago in person is great. He works so hard and he is so slick around the basket. His ability to consistently find space and finish in traffic is great. You also get a sense for how hard he runs the floor every single time up and down the court. He ran the Spurs into several easy baskets.
Those are about the only good things about this game. Our defense was not very good for some long stretches and we were only able to open up a lead at the end because the Suns missed a whole bunch of very easy shots right at the rim. That and we forced some turnovers because the Suns didn’t execute very well late. Which gets me to my next observation.
The Suns’ coaching staff really looked like an unorganized circle jerk. Lindsay Hunter looked like he barely had any clue what was happening most of the time. Apparently, he calls the defenses and another coach calls the offenses. This led to the players looking like they didn’t know who was in charge. That’s no way to run a team and I can’t blame Dan Majerle for walking out. Man, what a mess.
Lastly, watching a game live, I get a much greater sense of how long an NBA game is. I’m a big Kawhi fan and it seemed like he wasn’t on the court for forever. He played just short of 30 minutes and I felt like he was almost never out there. I’d write it off to my fandom, but I also got that vibe with Goran Dragic. From the first period into the late second, I thought to myself “Did Dragic get hurt? Because I can’t figure out why Sebastian Telfair is getting all the minutes”. It was just that Dragic sat from the 3+ mark of the first until the 6+ of the second, a very normal NBA shift, but it seemed like he didn’t play for something like an hour.
There you have it. The NBA sure does come across differently in person than on TV. No, please, hold the thanks. I know I suffered for you to learn this lesson.