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Throughout the playoffs, the thinking has been slow down Nash, and you can slow down the Suns. Give credit to Avery Johnson for doing the unthinkable, letting Nash score at will and use his defenders to crowd Amare and take away the three-point threats——the outlandishly productive options that make Nash's playmaking look so easy.

There's also the small matter of Joey Johnson, whose absence means that the Suns lose that invaluable second ball-handler (did anyone else notice how many times Amare ended up with the ball near the top of the key?) and a scorer capable of beating his man (sorry, Jackson and Barbosa). I'm not by any means saying that Johnson got taken out on purpose, but it was a felicitous turn of events for the Mavs. I don't really know enough about basketball to get any more technical, but it would have been more harder to take away ALL the shooters if Johnson were in the game. Chain reaction in the opposite direction; try that strategy with Johnson in, and it would lead right back to the same 'ol Nash/Amare mania.

This is what everyone's been saying about the Suns all season: lack of depth will be their downfall, somehow or other. Well, here it is, in the most extreme way possible. Johnson should be back, so I don't think it will be so easy on Wednesday. And, when a team's so dependant on so few players, you can't discount the importance of little things like Amare and Q being in foul trouble. Even down the stretch, the Suns were one flurry of three's away from winning; un-hobble that offense in the slightest, and this really could have gone either way.

Magic does commentary like he's babysitting the viewer.

Anyone want to claim that Nash is better than LeBron? I mean, look at all those points in a playoff game! Against a team that's decided to hang its hat on defense, no less.

Step right up, Amare-haters. Dude was triple teamed for almost that entire game. That's respect. And I don't think we can really hold it against him that he didn't spend the entire game at the free throw line; even if you're a phenom like Stoudemire, and have been around the Association for a couple of years, the preps to pros jump is going to leave you unprepared for handling a triple-team from three experienced defenders.

When Dallas plays a game like this, you wonder why it doesn't happen all the time. They've got Dirk to put fear into the defense; Finley and Stackhouse ready to make some serious shots; Howard and Daniels doing a little bit of everything and keeping everyone young; Dampier to hold it down in the middle; Terry, who demands some attention even on an off night (lest he comes with a Bibby-esque performance).

Call me a non-stop Suns apologist, but I'd rather do that than make obvious observations about why the Mavs should be good. They're a weird, counterintuitive success story, and seeing them dissected on national tv at least sheds some light on the mystery of what they'd managed to accomplish on better days.


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