There was a lot to like about this game...
The Point Guardians of the Valley were unleashed tonight and they are here to rule the basketball landscape if they deem fit. When the Phoenix Suns went small the game changed dramatically as the speed, energy, and athleticism of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas were too much for the short-handed San Antonio Spurs.
In the end the Suns coasted to a 121-90 final winning their last home pre-season game start to build some chemistry.
Early on the Suns were carried by Markiff Morris and Dragic as they combined for 17/24 points and 3/6 assists early on giving the team a slight edge after the first quarter. It was a rough start for Miles Plumlee as he missed his first three shot attempts and got into foul trouble, but turned things around in the second half. Other than a choppy first quarter this game was all Suns from the second quarter to the finish line.
Of course, it should have been as the Spurs only had one of their franchises Big Four in the Valley as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Greg Popovich all did not make the trip along with Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills.
Tony Parker played 22 minutes with 9 points and 4 assists with Ettore Messina coaching the team.
A 19-9 run to close the half and then an 18-7 run to start the third quarter sealed the deal for the Suns in this game. This game was another opportunity, no matter how depleted the Spurs roster was by design, to go out there and build some more chemistry with the new players and their roles. There is no denying the fact that the first three pre-season games were sloppy and not what the coach had ordered, despite the results.
This was a display of how the Suns can throw waves-and-waves of athletic scorers on the court to bring the energy, but more importantly they were doing it on the defensive end.
Overall the team finished with 17 steals led by Dragic's 3 that all seemed to lead to points in some way, shape, or form. The defense turns into offense philosophy was on full display. Not the, "run and score and the other team will eventually top out so we will win" strategy, an actual defense based gameplan that when clicking on all cylinders like tonight, can be daunting. The Point Guardians of the Valley were unleashed.
The steals turned into fast break points, 33 of them, and opened up the offense for so many things.
Everyone was hitting threes, Goran (1/2), Bledsoe (2/3), Thomas (4/5), Markieff (1/1), and even Archie Goodwin knocked down one. The 33 points from downtown and 29 fast-break points set a bench mark for how this team wants to play. Create havoc on defense, score in transition, and then when the opponents are on their heels knock down threes at a high rate.
For the game Dragic led the way with 20 points and 6 assists (23 minutes), Markieff right behind him with 17 points 7 rebounds (23), Bledsoe 16 points 6 assists (27), and Thomas with 15 points 5 assists (20).
Look, this was the rudderless version of the Spurs of course, for lack of a better description, they were the Austin Spurs tonight. In the end the Suns used this as a tune-up for the Point Guardians and gave the league a taste of what these three can do together.
Next Game: @ Los Angeles Lakers (1-3) Tuesday night at 7pm AZ Time
Oh, I see what you are doing here, Champs...
Where: Unnamed Arena in Phoenix - Phoenix, AZ
When: 7:00 p.m. (AZ Time)
Watch: Suns.com (Rise Network with Greg Esposito & Jon Bloom on the call)
Listen: AZ Sports 98.7 FM
Let's not over think this, but it is still the Spurs, right? Well, yes and no:
No Tim Duncan. No Manu Ginobili.
No Tony Parker. No Kawhi Leonard. No Patty Mills. No Tiago Splitter. No Coach Greg Popovich.
Looks like this will be (finally) the time for Cory Joseph, Danny Green, and Matt Bonner to step out of the shadows of the Big Three and become their own version of that. Throw in Boris Diaw for a Big Four. They will be The Big 2.0 and carry the Spurs franchise for years and years to come. I can see it now.
So when Jim Boylen grabs that clipboard and looks across the bench at Ettore Messina, Becky Hammond, and former Blazer Ime Udoka with a barrage of bench players it will not quite feel the same.
For the Suns this needs to be a business endeavor. As of this moment the team is averaging 20.3 turnovers per game in the pre-season which would lead the entire league (in a bad way) if this was still the 2013-2014 season. Last year they averaged 14.8 turnovers per game and right now they look like a team that does not have the cohesion or chemistry to start a regular season right now. There is a lot of work to be done here.
Since the pre-season has very little merit for overall season success lets look at this game as an opportunity for improvement for certain players on the Suns roster:
That is all. Let's play some basketball tonight.