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2010 NBA Playoffs: Don't Be Fooled by the Suns' Success; Defense Will Doom Them

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IMay 6, 2010

PHOENIX - MAY 05:  Jason Richardson #23 of the Phoenix Suns high fives teammates Steve Nash #13 and Grant Hill #33 after scoring against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 5, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The team is wearing 'Los Suns' jerseys on Cinco de Mayo in response to an anti-immigration law recently passed in Arizona.  The Suns defeated the Spurs 110-102 to take a 2-0 series lead. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

People in Phoenix may be conflicted by Arizona's new immigration law, which has been capturing headlines across the nation, but there is certainly no confusion over their city's Suns and their march through the NBA postseason.

The Suns took a 2-0 lead over the San Antonio Spurs in their Western Conference Semifinals series, and talk has begun to shift to the prospects of the Suns representing the West in the NBA Finals.

It's one thing to be confident in your team and their chances, but it's entirely something else when a person eschews the recent history of their team in favor of unrealistic dreams of NBA glory.

There will come a point in the playoffs when Phoenix will be forced to rely on its defense in order to advance to the next round, and unless something profound has occurred, the Suns' defense will fail them.

I am well aware the Suns have been giving a spirited effort on defense, and there are signs that say they are performing better on that end of the court, but does that make them a good defensive team all of a sudden?

The Suns buck the trend, because by all measures they are the weakest defensive team in the entire postseason field, yet they manage to keep winning with their high-octane offense and ability to control tempo.

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Plus the Suns shoot a lot of three-point shots, and that's not a bad thing—until those shots begin to miss, and Phoenix has no defensive laurels to rest on in the heat of a tight game.

The Orlando Magic loves to shoot the three-point shot, even more than Phoenix in the playoffs, but the Magic have a strong defensive mentality to fall back on that's anchored by Dwight Howard. 

Howard was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year mostly because of his monster blocks and the fear caused by his imposing image in the paint, but the thing that makes it work is the fact his teammates buy into it.

The Magic recognize the importance of good defense, while the Suns consider it in terms of something that has to happen after they score, and nothing more.

Amar'e Stoudemire is a marvelous offensive talent, but defense is nothing more than a nuisance for him, and the same can be said of Steve Nash, who may be the worst defensive point guard in the NBA.

Nash can't guard his own shadow, but he understands this and the rest of the team seems to be in tune, because none of them display any real will to excel in this area.

Defense is an attitude and something that becomes embedded into the culture of a team, and if there is no real commitment to defense in the spirit, it is not something that can be achieved in the heat of playoff fire.

Offensive talent is a must in the NBA postseason, but defense really does win championships, so fans of the Suns may want to temper their excitement with a little bit of reality.

San Antonio is without question a better defensive team than Phoenix, and the change of scenery will help the Spurs take advantage of that defense within the comforts of a home environment.

And while we are talking about the Spurs, keep in mind they were able to shoot 50 percent from the field in Wednesday night's loss, despite the improved defensive efforts from the Suns.

Even if the Suns should somehow win this series, it's hard to picture them advancing past any other team they may face if they allow them to shoot 50 percent from the field.

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