With tonight's game against the Phoenix Suns just a few hours away, I spoke to Greg Esposito, Senior Content Director at Fanster, writer of The Sports Retorter and an avid fan of the team the Spurs love to beat.
Every time Greg and I get together, we let the cheap shots fly, but you can always expect a pretty balanced game preview.
The following are his answers to my pregame questions.
1. The Spurs and Suns have some history, but has this once rivalry (at least in the eyes of Suns fans) flamed out?
It hasn't flamed out from a Suns perspective. We have inshrined an eternal flame of hate that will forever burn brightly for the Spurs. No matter who is the coach or who is playing, as long as they have silver and black on there will be a rivalry from a Phoenix perspective, at least until we beat the Spurs in the playoffs on the way to an NBA title. (Editors Note: Yea, that's never happening.)
2. Prior to their last loss, the Suns seemed to be on fire, but the Spurs just finished a grueling stretch with wins over the Celtics, Magic, Cavs and Lakers. Records aside, which team is at their best right now?
I think these two teams are about as even as teams can be. Both have gotten hot at the right time and are playing their best basketball right now. Also, both are battling injuries while doing it. Like most of the teams in the West, these two are so close in talent it's tough to call.
3. The Suns are hosting Clone Wars night on Sunday. Will the Suns ever be genetically-modified clones of NBA champions?
We were actually hoping that the Spurs were in town for this night. Since you are, of course, the evil empire. With that said, I think if the Suns are to win a championship it will be in an unconventional way. This franchise has never been willing to accept the "status quo" and will never play the boring, yet efficient, style that Gregg Popovich has brainwashed...I mean coached the Spurs to play. Eventually there will be an NBA title in Phoenix, I'm just not sure when.
4. Steve Nash is as good as any player to test and see how far along and healthy Tony Parker really is now that he's making his return. We've seen some great matchups between these players, but who would you give the edge to in this case?
Steve Nash hands down. At 36 he's in the best shape of his life and has played at an MVP level again this year. About the only thing Parker has on Nash is Eva Longoria. Plus, Parker will have to work harder against Goran Dragic than he ever has against any Nash backup before. It's not even a contest, Nash by a mile.
5. What will the Suns have to do to stop Manu from going off like he has since Parker has been out?
To be honest, nothing. If Manu is going to get his, it's about containing the other guys on the floor for the Suns. As usual this team isn't lacking in offensive fire power so seeing one player score 25+ isn't anything new. Containing Duncan, Blair and the rest of the Spurs bigs is more important than worrying about Manu. The only thing I wish the Suns could cover on Manu is that bald spot, it's just distracting.
6. Who wins tonight and why?
After all the trash talk and banter earlier in this post, I'm going to say the Spurs. Not because I think that they are a superior team and not because they're playing better right now. No, I'm picking the Spurs for two reasons. One, I've been conditioned to believe anytime the Suns face the "evil empire" that inevitably something will go wrong for them. And two, because I'm terrible at picking games and usually whoever I pick loses. So Spurs with the win (let the reverse jinx happen).
7. Oh, just one more thing: