The San Antonio Spurs (33-14) continue their voyage of five games in six nights by making their way to the desert for the first time this season, as the Spurs face the Phoenix Suns.
Normally, playing three straight games would be considered a bad thing, but not for this Spurs team. They not only swept their first back-to-back-to-back set, but also found some defensive momentum, as the Spurs have held their last three opponents to an average of 83 points per game. Not to mention they’ve won three straight games without one member of the “Big Three” for each night, and the Spurs can be called a team that is rolling at 8-2 in their last 10 games.
The Suns may not have as much depth as the Spurs, but they’ve finally found a winning pattern as they’re 7-3 in their last 10 games and are still in contention for a Western conference playoff seed.
Case No. 48: Phoenix Suns (25-24)
Home record: 15-10. Last 10 games: 7-3. Series Leader: San Antonio 1-0
Steve Nash – 13 points, 11.2 assists, 9.2 FGA (54%), 2.4 3PT FGA (39%)
Nash will be seeing a mixture of Tony Parker and Danny Green defending him throughout the night. Nash also has to be careful because both Parker and Green can catch fire offensively and post a 15+ point night.
- Marcin Gortat – 16 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 11.9 FGA (56%), 4.1 FTA (64%)
- Gortat has been the main scoring machine for Phoenix this season and he’s scoring in the post at an efficient rate. He’ll have to be ready for Duncan who is coming off a day of rest, and Blair who is averaging 21 points per game in his last two games.
- Jared Dudley – 13 points, 9.9 FGA (49%), 3.3 3PT FGA (39%)
- Grant Hill – 10.7 points, 9.5 FGA (45%)
- Dudley and Hill mainly hit perimeter jumpers. It’s not going to be a fun night for them with the hounding defense of Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson contesting most of their shots, then throw in the fact that both Jackson and Leonard are showing a knack for driving and not just spot-up-shooting, the Suns’ wings could have some problems on defense.
- Channing Frye – 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 9.7 FGA (41%), 4.2 3PT FGA (36%)
Shannon Brown – 9.1 points, 8.7 FGA (41%)
- Markieff Morris – 7.2 points, 7 FGA (39%)
- Michael Redd – 7.1 points, 6.2 FGA (40%), 2.5 3PT FGA (28%)
Offense vs. Offense
- 1. Points: Spurs (100.8) – Suns (96.9) = Spurs
- 2. Assists: Spurs (22.5) – Suns (22.7) = Spurs
- 3. Shooting percentage: Spurs (46.6%) – Suns (45.6%) = Spurs
- 4. Three point shooting percentage: Spurs (39%) – Suns (34.6%) = Spurs
- 5. Free throw attempts: Spurs (21.5) – Suns (21) = Spurs
- 6. Turnovers: Spurs (12.9) – Suns (13.8) = Spurs
Offensive Leader: Spurs 6-0
Defense vs. Defense
- 1. Opponent scoring: Spurs (96) – Suns (97.3) = Spurs
- 2. Opponent shooting: Spurs (45%) – Suns (45%) = Tie
- 3. Rebounds: Spurs (42.5) – Suns (41.6) = Spurs
- 4. Personal Fouls: Spurs (17.3) – Suns (18.7) = Spurs
Defensive Leader: Spurs 3-0
Phoenix has been playing a lot better as of late, but San Antonio has topped that even more. The Spurs are playing efficient-winning basketball on nights where one member of their big three is missing, Tiago Splitter has been missing, and even Gary Neal. The depth the Spurs have is almost two-deep at every position aside from backup point guard, but then you can easily slide Ginobili into that position.
Defensively, Leonard, Green, and Jackson’s perimeter defense is setting the tone for the defensive approach of the rest of the team. On offense, Diaw is fitting right in by looking to find the open man and fight for the rebounds, even Matt Bonner has been connecting and March is almost over (early March is when he usually begins to struggle, not this season.)
As Sean Elliot said the other night, this offense can be “scary” good. There’s times when the Spurs get on a run, where it looks like they won’t be stopped. There’s times where their defense is inside of every offensive set and making opponents either turn the ball over or force a bad shot.
The Suns have a few playmakers, but the Spurs’ depth should be too much for Phoenix to handle so long as the Spurs follow their initial game plan. I’m not sure who’s starting, who’s sitting, etc, but this team is boasting some lineups that just don’t have lots of lag time.
As long as the Spurs share the ball, get a team efficient night, and play the defense they’ve been playing as of late, they shouldn’t have any problem earning their fifth straight win in Phoenix.