With all the craziness of the past few days of the first round of the NCAA Tournament I haven't had a chance to watch many NBA games. But with this break in between rounds, I did catch a big matchup between the Suns and Pistons tonight.

I knew that the Suns were a hot team going in having won 7 in a row. I watched a segment on ESPN where they explained that the Suns had moved away from a fast-break spread offense to more of a flex-based and triangle-based half-court offense. A bunch of stats were quoted, but it basically boiled down to more of a slow-it-down playoff type game. So naturally that piqued my interest to see what the Suns are doing now and I took 2 clips from the first half showing their new offense. The first one is their flex and the second is their triangle offense,

Flex Offense:

The Suns have always used the flex screen, both the baseline and downscreens that are common to the flex offense. But with Shaq now, they use the flex as their primary option. They usually start off with Nash setting a baseline screen for Grant Hill to flash thru the key first, then Shaq will come and set a downscreen for Steve Nash who comes off the screen looking for a shot,

If the shot isn't there, Steve gets the ball down to Shaq down low then sets a diagonal flex screen for Amare who comes off gets the pass and shoots the open jumper,

Triangle offense:

The new wrinkle that the Suns do on offense now is a variation of the triangle offense that Shaq was familiar with when in Los Angeles. Once the ball goes into Shaq, it's a 2 man game with Amare receiving the pass. Amare can then shoot the mid-range, go baseline or drive middle. Here, Amare drives middle where he finds an open Grant Hill cutting baseline,


I like what the Suns have done offensively. They still run some spread PNR, but because Shaq is now O5 and posted up on the low block, Amare doesn't have the clear lane to throw it down off a Nash pass. The Suns are really now mostly about the flex and triangle. It's very complimentary to the players that they have now. The flex has allowed Steve to become a primary scoring option with all the open 3-pointers he gets. Give Mike D'Antoni all the credit for adapting, and doing it mid-season.

Defensively, I think they still need some work. Though their ppga is down, I think that is mostly due to the slower pace they play now. The Suns run a lot of zone now, and on M2M, they still don't take great pride in stopping their man and helping each other. They must still get better in this area, especially M2M, or they won't beat the better teams in the playoffs.

The innovator of the triangle offense, a version of the triple-post continuity is Tex Winter. For more on the triangle, you should look at Tex Winter's DVD on the Encyclopedia of the Triangle Offense. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and any of your favorite basketball topics.