The Phoenix Suns got going early on and never let up in their win over the New Jersey Nets tonight. With the right kind of players, the spread PNR offense is truly unguardable. The Suns are the number one team in the league in FG% at 49% and considering that they attempt almost 28 3-pointers or approxiamately one-third of their shots, their 49% shooting is even more impressive.

The real key to the spread PNR is the spacing. As one of the regular posters on the X's and O's forum writes, it's impossible to help and recover in time. Now, the players still have to penetrate, make good passes, and hit shots, but if you have the right combination of offensive talent like the Suns have, the spread PNR is bsaically unguardable. Here is just one sequence that demonstrates why the spacing is so key,

I actually believe the Nets attempt to defend the play was about as good as you can get. They help and rotate well, but because the Suns are spread so well, Jason Kidd just can't get there in time.

Spacing is Key:

This is a classic spread PNR play. It's a high screen and roll between Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire. Nash is so good at penetrating the paint to collapse the defense then find the open man.

Stoudamire comes to set the pick for Nash and both go hard to the basket. The Nets choose to switch and go underneath. X5 goes to stop Nash, X3 rotates to cover Stoudamire, which leaves Kidd to stay help-side after the switch.

Because the Suns have Nash who has such great court vision, Nash makes a pass back to Shawn Marion who has come up slightly dragging the 3-point line. Jason Kidd does a good job rotating to close out, but Marion only needs a fraction of a second to get his 3-point shot off.


Help and recover does have it's faults, I'll admit. You will give up some open shots. As a result, if you have great shooters with a great point guard and a couple of athletic forwards, the spread PNR will work very well. Spreading the floor and hitting 3-pointers is key here though, as it stretches the defense and forces the defense to respect your shooters, thus allowing your lead guard to penetrate easier.

The best video out there that teaches this offense is Billy Donovan's DVD on the Spread Offense. Coach Donovan used it to win back-to-back national championships at Florida. As always, please check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk hoops and exchange notes and ideas.