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So Good, Yet So Bad

John Hollinger's P.E.R. Diem column yesterday tackled the awe-inspiring new offense being run in Phoenix. In a nutshell they score a ton of points. After the jump, we're going to look at the cost of this offensive style, and how the Sixers can exploit Phoenix's system for their fifth straight win tonight.
First, take a look at the Suns' rankings over at Knickerblogger.net. As you can see, the Suns are near the top of the league in offensive efficiency. Now, forget those stats. They aren't even close to representative of the team the Andres and Co. will face tonight.

Since Terry Porter was given the heave-ho, these are the numbers for the Suns (16 games):

  • Possessions/Game: 99.46
  • Points/100 possessions: 120
  • Points/Game: 120.3
  • Points Allowed/100 possessions: 117.5
  • Points Allowed/Game: 116
Daunting offensive numbers, without a doubt, but you can't help but salivate when you see how porous their defense is. A closer look at the numbers will shine even more light on why the Suns are only 8-8 with the "7 Seconds or Shaq" offense in place.

Here's how they did against the better defensive teams in the league. Below you'll see the opponent faced, the points/100 possessions in that game, and where that offensive ranking would place them in the league.

  • San Antonio: 103.71 (27th)
  • Lakers: 104.12 (27th)
  • Magic: 96.7 (30th)
  • Boston: 106.6 (21st)
The point being, 7 seconds or Shaq does not trump good defense. And you can ask the Knicks how meaningful pushing the pace is if you don't hit your shots. Oh, and the Suns defense makes even the worst offense in the league look like a scoring machine.

Now that we have the hifalutin efficiency numbers down, let's talk about on-the-court advantages, because they are litterally all over the floor. Willie and Sammy don't have obvious advantages on offense. We don't want Sammy posting up on Shaq. The only thing we want Sammy worrying about on offense is out-maneuvering Shaq for o-boards, which he should have no problem doing. Willie should have the foot speed to take Jason Richardson off the dribble, but I'd rather see him running him through screens for catch and shoot opportunities at the elbow. Still, not an advantage. Now, for the rest of the positions:

  • PG: Nash can't stick with Miller off the dribble, and he has no prayer if Miller takes him down to the post.
  • SF: Grant Hill in his prime couldn't have guarded Iguodala's jock. At 38, this matchup is laughable.
  • PF: Matt Barnes is not your typical power forward. He's small for the position, which should open up Thad's inside game. The Sixers haven't been afraid to post Thad up against bigger PFs, they should punish the Suns for this mismatch.
The matchup I'm most looking forward to is Lou vs. Barbosa. They're very similar players and watching them fly at one another should be a treat. The big mismatch, however, is going to be Marreese Speights vs. whoever is unlucky enough to guard him. Barnes has no prayer. Amundson will get abused. And if it winds up being Shaq, expect Speights to be dunking left and right. I'm looking for big minutes from the kid tonight. The Suns are not the type of team you can utilize Evans' disruptive powers against. They don't want to set the offense, it's basically predicated on chaos. Give all of his minutes to Speights tonight.

Someone raised the question in the comments on an earlier post of whether Donyell would be able to keep up with the pace of tonight's game. The answer is probably no. I doubt he could hack it out there for a full quarter, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't play. There are going to be so many wide-open threes against this defense, it would be criminal not to use him.

My key to the game is going to be turnovers. Nash can be extremely sloppy with the ball and they don't really have another ball handler on their roster. Tough on-the-ball defense should get the Sixers out running the right way. This one definitely goes into triple digits for both teams, but don't expect 120 points for Phoenix, unless they lose by 20 in doing so.

The tip is at 10pm, hope to see all you guys here for the in-game discussion.

by Brian on Mar 18 2009
Tags: Basketball | Pregame | Sixers | Suns |