Why Today's Spurs Are Not Yesterday's Suns

Aaron ChungContributor IIApril 18, 2012

SAN ANTONIO - MAY 09:  Guard Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns talks with Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 9, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas.  The Suns defeated the Spurs 107-101 and win the series 4-0.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

High-octane offense and the San Antonio Spurs have never been in the same sentence, let alone on the same page. After a decade of low-scoring games and an old man’s brand of basketball, NBA aficionados still have a hard time believing that the 2011-2012 Spurs are an offensive juggernaut.

A recent article by J.A. Adande points out that the San Antonio Spurs “are fourth in the league in field goal percentage and second in 3-point shooting.” In the month of April alone, the Spurs have had games where they've scored 125, 128, 114, 107, 105, 120 and 112 points. 

In the past, this type of offensive production was nothing more than fool's gold. Teams that scored a lot, never seemed to play any defense. However, in today's brand of basketball, good defense is not enough to sustain an offensive drought. The days of winning games 87-82 aren't good enough anymore to win a ball game. Just ask the 76ers.  

So, don’t look now, but today’s San Antonio Spurs are yesterday’s Phoenix Suns, with one caveat.

The Spurs seem to rev up their defensive engines when it counts. Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated reports that,

“In the last five minutes of games with a scoring margin of five or fewer points, San Antonio has yielded just 91.5 points per 100 possessions, the best mark in the league, according to NBA.com.”

The Spurs might not play 48 minutes of stifling defense like they once did, but they're still capable of getting on the demand stops; something that the Phoenix Suns were not able to do in the playoffs.  

While the Spurs continue to outscore their opponents with a barrage of three pointers, high pick-n-rolls, and Tony and Manu's penetration; they’re also playing hard-nosed defense when the rubber meets the road.  

Today’s Spurs are not yesterday’s Suns, nor are they yesterday’s Spurs, but what they are is a new team, carving their own path, in their own way.