Thursday, May 25, 2006

Suns-Mavs Game 1

More please? Though, at this rate the Suns will have about 6 players available by game 5. Which only means that it will be time for the Niklos Tshiskgsigcisgihsihvilischiviilli coming out party... it's entirely possible that I could average 20 a game playing alongside Nash, Marion and Diaw.

A few random thoughts:

1. The Suns never play good defense, but at times they succeed in running around a lot and scrambling the game, which forces a few turnovers and gets them easy buckets. Plus, over the course of the game, they have to put some doubt into you - perfect example being when Jason Terry took a wide open three with about 18 seconds on the shot clock...and Steve Kerr opined that that was a bad shot against the Suns - and I was forced to agree.

(Thinking about this last people a little deeper, assume he makes that shot at 35% clip, he'll average 1.05 pts/att. I'm willing to bet, that even factoring in offensive rebounds, the Suns will come out ahead in the wash - considering that they probably score close to 2 pts/possession on the ensuing fast break if he misses, and they are so good at running on makes that they'll get a good portion of the 3 right back on average anyway)

2. Tim Thomas is maddening. How is he not at least a bordeline all-star? There is no good reason for him not to average 18 and 8 every year.

3. Ener-gy. As I talked about regarding game 1 of the East finals, energy plays a big roll in the outcomes of games, and if Phoenix can keep their level of energy (which I doubt, because Nash was visibily tired in the second half, before he caught his second wind with about 3:00 to play) they are going to be tough to deal with. Dallas' style of offense (essentially rotating isolations) is always going to leave them vulnerable to runouts by a team as comitted to running on everything.

Which brings me to the most impressive thing about the Suns - the ability to run off of makes. Pretty much every coach I ever head preached "get it out, get it in and let's go!" But no one really expected it to happen - there is the natural 1 second shoulder-slump when the ball goes through for the other team. Except the Suns are conditioned not to care (which is perhaps the silk purse of the sow's ear of their crappy D - they're used to being scored on, so they aren't disappointed when it happens) - all 5 guys are playing offense instantly. It's not enough for Nash to move for the outlet, or even for Thomas or Diaw to get the ball out of bounds quickly - Marion and Barbosa are gone as well.

Coaches of slow-down type teams like to talk about making the other team defend for the full shot clock, but that's a lie - they have to defend for about 10 seconds at most because this type of team isn't even looking at the bucket for the first 14. Phoenix really does make you have to defend for the full clock. They are ready to score at any point between 23 to zero on the shot clock - they're just talented enough offensively that they find a shot rather quickly pretty often.

4. If I'm Avery Johnson, don't I have to think about trying a zone, especially if Bell is out for any length of time? Phoenix is versatile enough that they are going to put Dallas in a horrible position with the pick and roll (last night, they exploited the switch that put Devin Harris or Jason Terry on Diaw pretty often.) Plus, playing zone would allow the Mavs to keep Dampier on the floor a little bit - I don't think Phoenix can keep him off the glass. I mean Dirk, not exactly the banger's banger had 9 o-board last night. And as the Lakers showed in the first round, I think making Marion and Diaw guard a big guy will wear them down a bit - something like a boxer working the body, so that in the later rounds, the legs are gone.

The major downsides of playing a zone are somewhat negated - Phx isn't going to kill them on the boards; Dallas is already getting lit up in transition; and if Bell is out, that significantly reduces the vulnerability to 3-pointers unless and until Barbosa or Jones start making jumpers again.

5. As a final Mavs thought, Adrian Griffin should play more, and the Terry-Harris backcourt less. Against the Spurs, speeding the game up with JeT and Harris was to Dallas's advantage. Against the Suns, it's just the opposite, and it's not like Dallas won't be able to score with a more defensive lineup. And with the 'fast' lineup, the Mavs won't be able to resist the temptation to play at Phoenix's pace. Which makes for entertaining hoops, but comparative advantage: PHX.

6. As the Chuckster said, Steve Nash is indeed one bad whiteboy. He was the best player on the floor last night by a huge margin. And Dirk played pretty well...

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