The 2011 NBA Playoff feature all of the Phoenix Suns old foes. The San Antonio Spurs are there in black and silver battling the Memphis Grizzlies for a Round 1 win. The Portland Trail Blazers, who fell victim to the Suns in 2010, are back at it against a rival from a couple years past, the Dallas Mavericks. And of course, there's the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Phoenix Suns have squared off with the Los Angeles Lakers more times than any other NBA team in the playoffs. In fact, the very first playoff series the Suns ever had featured these two teams in a 1970 best of seven series the Lakers won 4-3.
The Suns were led by Gail Goodrich, Paul Silas and Connie Hawkins. The Lakers featured Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt averaged 20.2 rebounds in that series and started a pattern of Laker big man domination that would repeat itself.
In the 80's it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the middle against the undersized Alvan Adams. In the 2000's it was Shaquille O'Neal owning the paint and of course, last year it was Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
The two teams have played a total of 38 playoffs games in 12 different series since that first in 1970. The Spurs are second on the Suns list of playoff foes with 10 series. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly to any of the long-suffering Suns fans, Phoenix is 24-38 against the Lakers in the playoffs and 4-8 in those 12 series.
Despite the clear advantage held by the Lakers, however, the two teams have long provided entertaining postseason basketball.
Last season's contrast in styles with the Suns playing zone and shooting the three ball was simply a continuation of the long history between these two squads. The record shows that in the end, size and defense matters and for the Suns this offseason those are the stated priorities of the team's new front office.