It’s seemed a revelation in the playoffs, but the Suns started playing defense just after the All-Star Break. Seriously. They kept putting up the mountains of points, but from the All-Star Game to the end of the season, the Suns were 12th in defensive efficiency in he league (according to ESPN’s John Hollinger).
Not great, but not bad, and with their offense all they need to be is not bad.
Since the game two switch of Grant Hill Defensive Stopper (still just weird to type that) on to Andre Miller in the Blazers/Suns series, the Suns defense is winning them a playoff series. Even Amare Stoudemire is in on the act, slowing LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Suns are having fun with this, according to the Arizona Republic:
“I never had a clue on how fun defense really is because we never played it,” Stoudemire said. “It was just such a great offensive team. We never talked about defense. There’s no weak link on the court defensively. We now are known as somewhat of a defensive team. It may get overshadowed here or there because we score so well.”
What sparked all this? A Jason Terry comment. Seriously.
On Jan. 28, a 26-21 Suns team was losing at home at halftime when the Suns locker room television became a mirror of truth.
There, for the Suns to see, Terry was giving a TNT halftime interview and saying: “We’ve got to score on these guys. They’re not very good defensively and we’ve got to make them pay.”
“With all the repetition and practice, it (Terry’s comment) sparked more of a defensive mind-set for us because we knew we had to defend to win that game,” Suns forward Grant Hill said. “We get in huddles and timeouts in fourth quarters or tough stretches and we talk about getting stops. Whereas before, we were always thinking about our offense. That comment sparked something in us that became personal when he said that.”
It is defense that is going to move the Suns on to the second round. It is defense that could have them upsetting the Mavericks (or maybe beating the Spurs is more likely).
Who knew it could be fun?