The Phoenix Suns aren’t stupid. They know they’re currently 8-16 and are 12th in the Western Conference which means they understand just how important each game they play is. So, it’s not that surprising to this sports fan that one of the major staples in the way Phoenix is going to climb out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves is to conserve as much energy as they can on every possession regardless if it’s on offense or defense. If any team should now about how to handle energy, it’s the team whose name is actually a star that kills about 8,000 people a year because it gives out to much energy. This weeks film study focuses on the Suns and how they plan to beat you with out even trying.
As you can plainly see, all of the Suns’ players hustled back on defense where the best record in the East Boston Celtics are lollygagging all the way up the court, this is something Phoenix might want to take note of. But the beauty of what Phoenix is trying to do is how they blend sabremetrics and all the analytics with their team mantra of watching you beat yourself. The Celtics are shooting .447 FG% from the field which means smart teams like the Suns know that the odds say that Marcus Smart and Al Horford will probably miss every shot they ever take. The numbers also tell Phoenix that the most likely scenario is that Boston will continue to shoot from the field without ever making a single shot. So having them take up all the time on the clock on one trip down the floor is fine with them. Also, Phoenix realizes you can’t turn the ball over if you never have it, so letting the other team possess the ball for an entire game is great way to eliminate offensive mistakes and in a league where no one plays defense that’s a clever way to go about business.
You can see Phoenix conserving energy all over this play. Not one guy on the floor for them made even the slightest effort to try and get the rebound or get anywhere near the shooters. Like Mike McD setting a bear trap for Teddy KGB, Phoenix lulled Smart into a false sense of security and had him wonder why there wasn’t a defender within 20ft. Not to knit pick other teams, but Smart should really listen to the fundamentals that Brad Stevens preaches everyday and follow your shot. You’re not going to face many teams that lets you shoot uncontested 3s while also letting the ball bounce of the rim and slowly roll right back to you. At the end of the play Horford got real lucky and actually managed to get the ball in the hoop. But that’s more of an anomaly not the norm.
I’m not saying that Phoenix has stumbled onto a revolutionary way to play the game. I’m saying you have to coach your players and put them in the best position to let them do what they do best. Turns out, Phoenix’s best position is to all stand together in the paint while the other team tires themselves out. Kind of heroic if you think about it. Can’t miss approach like you read about.