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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Tuesday's number: 25

By Brian Kamenetzky

This would be the total number of field goal attempts inside five feet for the Suns during Monday's Game 1 stomp job.

In the postgame, I noted how effectively the Lakers minimzed good looks for the Suns near the rim, and it turns out I managed to get this one right (I'm remembering an expression about blind squirrels and nuts...). The Suns were 16 of 25 from five feet and in, good for 32 points. By contrast, the Lakers made more shots from the same range than Phoenix attempted, going 26 of 38 and generating 52 points.

During the regular season, the Suns averaged 33.2 attempts from in tight. For all their size, the Lakers only took 1.7 more a night. While the Suns are known for their outside shooting- knocking down 41.2 percent from beyond the arc certainly burnishes a reputation- becoming an offensive juggernaut required Phoenix not only to knock down threes but also get easy points inside, whether in transition or off the pick and roll.

Meaning last night's result isn't simply a matter of L.A. getting inside, though that certainly helps, but keeping Phoenix out of the paint. Even if things don't go as well for them offensively going forward as they did Monday night, if the Lakers can continue this trend at the other end, the Suns will be hard-pressed to beat them four times.

(Big thanks to the ESPN Stats & Information Group for their help fleshing out the numbers.)