Remember when Phoenix, having coughed up home court advantage last year against the Clippers in Game Two, came into Staples on a Friday night for Game Three and grinded out a slowass 94-91 win over the Clips to go up 2-1 in the series?  Remember how we all shook our collective heads because the book on the series was PHX needed to operate at a frenetic pace to win, and that a controlled offensive pace favored the Clippers?   That’s what happened in last night’s game.  Phoenix decided to see whether it could utilize its solid man-to-man defenders [and remember, they’ve got three excellent ones in Bell, Thomas, and Marion] and roll the dice, hoping they could shore up the defensive glass and create just enough opportunities in transition to win ugly [comparatively speaking for PHX].  They took a page from the Spurs’ book, relying on those individual defenders and resisted any temptation to upset their defensive balance by making bad help decisions.  The good news for Phoenix is that if they can do smart defensive work early in the set against the S/R for Parker, San Antonio doesn’t have a lot of guys who command double-teams.   Each time Parker scanned the halfcourt for a mismatch, there was nothing there.  Part of that is that PHX is much more versatile defensively than we realize.  Most teams can’t stick a frontcourt player like Shawn Marion on an active PG like Parker, but the Suns can.  Likewise, Bell can defend most of the bigs the Spurs throw at him.   

The quality and magnitude of the adjustments in a seven game series are fascinating to watch.   In response to the bloodletting of Game One, PHX came out tonight with a blueprint to win a defensive battle, and they did. How will Popovich adjust at home?  By figuring out how to employ Parker’s penetration so that it creates tougher decisions for Phoenix in the paint.  If Phoenix is going to insist on not double-teaming Duncan, San Antonio has to make them pay in the interior.