Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Phoenix Suns' New Leaf, a Case for Improvisation

"We are who we are, and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we've had in the past." - Alvin Gentry

Alvin Gentry, the interim coach for the Phoenix Suns, is not a genius. In fact, he doesn't even seem to be a good coach. Before he took over for Terry Porter last week, he had a career record of 177-226 in his three other stints at the helm. That being said, his team has put up at least 140 points in each of the three wins they've notched in his tenure, and their success is based on that simple "breakneck pace" change in philosophy.

Of course, their opponents in those games were the Clippers and the Thunder--even with Durant, the Thunder is basically a WNBA team--but 140 points? Without Amare in one of those games? That's still almost unprecedented. With just a change in attitude, Phoenix has shown how malleable any NBA team can be.

Chili dog. Now that guy has to paint the whole thing over with a detached retina.

Because it's all attitude. Despite what Gentry said, these Phoenix Suns are not the offensive juggernauts from the early aughts. They don't have the outside shooters that helped them to run and gun back then; Steve Nash is a ghost of the player he was during his MVP runs; and the man in the middle is Shaquille O'Neal who, despite his dancing skills, is not the best center for that type of system. In fact, Stoudemire, Nash, and Barbosa are the only guys who were even on those score-happy playoff teams, which leads me to my point. The newfound productivity of the Suns has nothing to do with their personnel. It's just a matter of a coach coming in and saying, "You know what, guys? Forget defense. Let's try to put up a hundo in the first half." And the players are having fun and responding.

Having fun...responding...

Professional basketball players are versatile enough to do anything. If you let them do what they want, they'll probably play with some emotion and win. That's basically what Mike D'Antoni, Alvin Gentry's former boss, is doing in New York, and it's starting to work. The problem with the NBA isn't players with a lack of fundamentals: it's coaches who insist on applying those fundamentals to boring half-court sets. Even without the players who originally made them that way, the Suns have always been a European-style fast break powerhouse waiting to break out. Once again, the egg is on Terry Porter's face--no standing in a pool with three other handsome athletes with shades and a hat on to make it clear you're not dunking your head under.

1 comment:

Michael said...

tis unfortunate for suns fans that amare abandoned the goggles so quickly(after he said he would wear them for the rest of his career) ...

given the current standings, i think that means the suns are out of the playoffs

and due to mcgrady's giant vag, the rockets will fall in the standings

amazing how important injuries are in the nba

i think you need to have some sort of a-rod post (as written by someone else, perhaps yuri, perhaps selig, or maybe even a-rod's dominican trainer that is banned from all private areas of mlb stadiums)

the only thing that could make the steroid era more entertaining at this point (although i am incredibly sick of it), would be big papi testing positive after all he's said....

i have my fingers crossed