What can Phoenix Take Away from Beating San Antonio?

December, 18, 2007
12/18/07
11:08
AM ET

Did you see that game? (Here are the highlights.)

The Suns won, which must feel great. But a lot of what happened last night probably won't happen if these two teams see each other in the playoffs. For instance: 

  • San Antonio was without Tony Parker.
  • San Antonio was 5-23 from three-point range.
  • San Antonio had four more turnovers than Phoenix.
  • San Antonio has not played their best basketball this year.

But there are a couple of permanent positive signs for Phoenix.

A non-trivial one was Boris Diaw getting a much-needed injection of confidence from making the play of the game. He has been a fantastic player at times in the past. If he is really perking back up, Phoenix is getting a free player compared to last year.

And of course it's no secret (as Marc Stein pointed out) Grant Hill made himself handy.

Remember how Phoenix used Kurt Thomas against Tim Duncan in the playoffs last year? He played great defense, and when he wasn't tired he hit some jumpers. But he just ran out of gas. And meanwhile, he kept some of the Suns' jackrabbits on the bench -- which costs points. 

Then they let him go, which upset a lot of fans, and have his roster spot to Grant Hill.

Whoa, many thought, you can't win a title without beating the Spurs, the Spurs are led by Tim Duncan, and you're telling me you're giving up your designated Duncan-stopper? How does Grant Hill fit in the strategy to beat San Antonio?

Duh! It just hit me.

The Spurs have acknowledged that their defensive approach is to not allow uncontestd layups or three-pointers. They have picked their poison, and their thought is: if you are going to beat us, show us your mid-range game.

And Grant Hill says "OK!"

Look at the shot chart for Hill. Besides a couple of layups, he shot from the mid-range all game and didn't miss much. That's something. And if San Antonio game plans for that next time, Hill is a willing passer who can make them pay. 

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