Watch the rotations by the Phoenix Suns big men on this crucial late game pick and roll by the San Antonio Spurs.
The Suns held the Spurs to 41 percent shooting in their win over the defending NBA champs on Halloween night. You can make excuses for San Antonio (missing Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills) but forget that and give credit to the improved Phoenix defense.
The first thing to look at is Alex Len nimbly coming off the screen and cutting off a potential Tony Parker drive. I've noticed early in the season so far that the Suns like to have Len sag back on his pick and roll coverage to keep him closer to the rim similar to the way the Pacers use Roy Hibbert.
Of course, Len's move leaves Tim Duncan open for the pass but Markieff Morris reads the play and perfectly rotates over so he is in Duncan's face immediately.
At this point, and this might be the best part, Boris Diaw dives to the rim for a pass from Duncan (typical beautiful Spurs play) but Len has rotated back into the paint to cover that. We've seen many Suns bigs burned by similar plays due to a lack of attentiveness.
Now watch again focusing on Dragic and Bledsoe on the weak side as they communicate perfectly and switch to prevent and open wing shooter.
This leaves Duncan to look for the open shooter that's not there and Morris overplays the pass and convinces Tim to spin around and take an elbow jumper. A younger Tim Duncan makes that shot 90% of the time but in this case he's exactly the shot the Suns would like to give up.
They've defended an easy Duncan roll to the rim. They've defended a slick high-low pass to Diaw at the rim. They've defended Duncan kicking out for an open three. All that's left is for Tim to try (and miss) that tough mid-range shot. Even if Duncan had made the bucket it would have been the lowest percentage option and exactly what modern NBA teams would most like opponents to take.
That, my friends, is excellent team defense with major props to both Morris and Len.
Oh, and Len snagged the rebound.