Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Exclamation Point to the Spurs Victory -- Memphis

Very nice. Without this blowout win over Memphis (71-41 at halftime!), the win over the Spurs would have hung there, unresolved. Like a sentence fragment. On top of everything else to feel good about, Giricek broke through for 18 points on 9-14 shooting. We might start to see him finagling minutes away from Diaw/Barbosa. Good.

One point of criticism: Yet again Barbosa's +\- was the worst of the top 7 in the lineup. I smell point guard duty in the 3rd quarter..

Why do I only smell it? Because I didn't see the game. Which reminds me to tell you, I'm working on finding ways to catch more than just nationally televised Suns games and will have more solutions in the next weeks. If all goes well I should be able to funnel the huge revenue from this site into the necessary resources to shadow the team all over the country. Or something.

First ever post -- Leandro who?

Does anyone remember.. Who was the hands-down, no-brainer choice for 6th man of the year last year?

Barbosa's points, assists, FG%, and 3pt FG% have all declined since his emergence in the 2006-2007 season (Suns fans knew he was good in 2005-2006). Most notably though, Barbosa has consistently looked lost when asked to play point, and has looked even more spaced-out since The Trade. Why?

Barbosa is a young, fresh face whose English skills were limited when he arrived in the NBA in 2003. The best way for coaches (most notably Mike D'antoni's brother Dan) to communicate with him MUST have been to simplify his role. He was told something like, "Run and try to score, Steve will find you in the open court and you will blow by everyone for a layup. In the half court, hit open 3-pointers. Also, maybe try to play some D. The end."
Well that worked from 2005-2007. What the Shaq trade did was cement a change in philosophy from being a fantastic, somewhat one-dimensional team, to being a (who knows how good), multi-dimensional team. Barbosa's role at two-guard is more complicated, more elegant now. It requires a sharper decision-making process and a surge in basketball IQ on Barbosa's part. He used to be like a mini-bazooka that Steve Nash could fire at the opposing team, and while I'm sure we will see flashes of that, Barbosa really needs to learn to define himself now.

Barbosa is not a point guard. Stop playing him at point.

I'd like to just end there because it would provide some dramatic contrast, but I suppose some explanation is needed. In the last 6 games, with Barbosa on the floor, the Suns are -44 in point differential. And I don't have the time to formulate this statistic, but it appears at a glance that the games in which Barbosa's personal differential are acceptable are those in which Steve is logging 38+ minutes. Which means Nash is running the point. Here's an easy way to track the domino effect:

When Barbosa runs the point, he looks lost. When he looks lost, the rest of the team looks lost. When the Suns look lost on offense, they look comatose on defense. And they lose.

Marcus Banks is gone and was a bad fit anyway, DJ Strawberry hasn't earned coach's seal of approval yet, and I respect that. So who is a legit backup point guard to Steve Nash? Nobody. But there is a certain monsieur that could play pretend for between 8-12 minutes a game and probably not squander leads or dig the Suns into the ground. Yes, I mean Boris Diaw. He WAS a point guard, you know.

Armchair coach decision of the day -- use the following lineup when Nash is resting:

1 - Diaw
2 - Bell\Barbosa\DJ
3 - Hill\Bell
4 - Skinner\Stoudemire
5 - Shaq

Have Diaw feed the post, end of story. Don't lose a big lead, don't build a big lead. Just wear the other team down physically, play solid defense, and wait for Nash to return. If nobody else can guard their point guard, just put DJ in for defensive duty. Have him play rough.

And, try to sign Brent Barry.