Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An End To The Misery, Shooting the Lights Out

Just when you thought the race for 8th place in the West might get interesting, kaboom! 140 points happens. It was unthinkable that the Mavericks would lose to Memphis last Friday (although the Grizz have won 5 of their last 6, no one is holding any celebrations for beating the likes of Sacramento, Washington, GS, Milwaukee) to even make this game meaningful. But then, we are talking about the Dallas Mavericks here.

So that sets up the Sunday showdown between the Suns and Mavericks. Suns win, and they're only 2 games back, with 5 games left and a marshmellow schedule against the league's creampuffs. Surely this was the game they circled on the calendar for the past couple weeks, the game for all the marbles...right?

Oh what a debacle, what a sight to behold. We now know that the Suns are finished -- their tragic number is down to 1, meaning their next loss or Mavs win will officially lock in their offseason fishing plans. Can you think of a team that played any worse in a game of such magnitude? (Well, Game 6 of the 2008 Finals does come to mind...). It was the perfect storm, a perfectly horrid defensive performance, a perfectly hungry, unhappy, home team shooting the lights out any chance they got a sliver of daylight. Well, I shouldn't be using kind words like 'sliver', seeing as how most of Dallas' shots seemed to come without a Suns player anywhere in the picture frame.

Now, I've spoken repeatedly about the Suns horrible, horrible defense in the past -- but Sunday was such a perfect case study. You can just analyze the plays shown on highlight reels and learn everything you need to know about the 2009 Phoenix Suns.

Start with the fast break at the 1:10 mark of the video. Jared Dudley (#3) in the foreground is pointing at the Mavs' Brandon Bass as he wizzes by him into the lane, indicating that someone needs to pick him up. However, he doesn't bother to cover Jason Terry who is right in front of him spotting up at the 3-pt line. Kidd delivers the pass to Terry, who buries a wide-open three in front of the too-late-to-scramble-and-recover Dudley. "You get that guy, I'll stick -- nobody."

Next highlight, J-Kidd runs a pick-and-roll with Josh Howard. Howard's man, the otherwise esteemable Grant Hill, allows Kidd to split any semblance of trap they were thinking of forming and get into the lane. Shaq steps up to stop Kidd's drive, leaving Brandon Bass free to waltz down the baseline, Kidd free to throw a quick lob from 7 feet out, and the fans free to rejoice a thunderous Bass slam. But there was even more on that play. If you pause it at the moment Kidd hits the free-throw line, you'll see both wing defenders -- Leandro Barbosa and Jason Richardson -- sagging down below the line, following the play with their eyes and bodies even though they are nowhere close to helping out. This left two more shooters open on both sides of the arc, were Kidd to have somehow made up his mind beforehand and not noticed Bass.

Next highlight, an alley-oop to Josh Howard, who ran literally all the way in from beyond the 3-pt line after his defender turned his head to watch a pick play that was happening all the way on the other side of the court.

Are you noticing a trend? Who do you blame? Kidd had his way with Nash as you'd expect, getting into the lane and disrupting the defense any time we wanted. But it's not like the rest of the team is actually aware enough to play defense man-up anyways.

I'm beating a dead horse at this point, but it's like watching a car wreck on the highway for me (something I absolutely loathe, for which I will probably get a road-rage charge at some point in my life by the way).

They are so, so bad, and I just can't help but watch.

Dallas on the other hand -- now that they're positioned to look upwards in the standings to continue chasing the 7th spot -- I fully expect them to lose 3 of their last 5 and make the 8th-place race mathematically interesting for the next week. I mean, we are talking about the Dallas Mavericks here.

No comments: