Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
In years of Suns basketball, defense has never really been synonymous with the team. That might be changing, though.
Sure, the headline might be a bit of hyperbole, but after two games, the Phoenix Suns are opening my eyes a little bit. Since the days of KJ, Chambers and Majerle, the Suns have been known for their high-scoring attacks. Plain and simple, the Suns have been playing very good defense.
In their first two games, their opponents are shooting just under 40 percent from the field. The teams they have played are not the best teams by any means, but the Golden State Warriors have a bunch of good shooters. Golden State shot 38 percent and Detroit shot 41 percent.
What is the difference?
To start, for the first time in forever, they have a point guard that provides good on the ball defense. Goran Dragic can defend. Steve Nash...well...he played decently in a team defensive set and drew charges, but he could never provide pressure on the ball. So that is one factor.
Another factor is Luis Scola in post defense. What Scola has done well so far is be active. In the game against Golden State, he had active hands, tipping a few balls and just being pesky down low. He is physical and, while he doesn't block shots, he is able to keep from getting out-muscled.
His play has helped Marcin Gortat defensively, who has eight blocked shots in two games. Gortat is not great in post defense, but he is tall and has been able to change shots around the rim.
When you get stronger ball pressure and physicality down low that leads to more blocked shots, guess what? you have yourself better defense and more missed shots.
The one thing that the team needs to do better is rebound. Coach Alvin Gentry has said it before -- the team will play great defense for the possession but give up the ball.
That is something we will have to see. And of course opponents could start shooting the ball better, but this is certainly a different Phoenix Suns team.
Alvin Gentry wants the identity of the team to be one that plays great defense and that plays hard.
So far, so good after two games.