It was another thrilling game, just like game one was between the Spurs and the Suns, but I left the game feeling that once again, that the Suns made some subtle, but critical mistakes down the stretch that cost them a chance to tie the game and quite possibly could've cost them the series.

As a coach, one of the things I've come to believe in as an absolute is that when the game is on the line, you want your best players taking the big shots down the stretch, at the very least, you want to run the play through your clutch players. If you're the Phoenix Suns, down by 6, 2 minutes to go, game on the line, who do you go to? You would think Steve Nash, or Amare Stoudamire, or maybe even Shaq. But instead, Mike D'Antoni went with Boris Diaw ISO 1v1. In fact, they would go to Diaw ISO 1v1 at least 3 times under 7 min in the 4th quarter, and each time they ended up with 0 points,

Here are the last scores by Phoenix,
7:07 Steve Nash makes 24-foot three point jumper (Raja Bell assists)
4:26 Steve Nash makes layup
4:13 Raja Bell makes free throw 1 of 2
4:13 Raja Bell makes free throw 2 of 2
3:43 Amare Stoudemire makes tip shot
3:15 Steve Nash makes free throw 1 of 2
3:15 Steve Nash makes free throw 2 of 2
2:44 Steve Nash makes 11-foot two point shot
1:31 Steve Nash makes 9-foot two point shot
0:14 Amare Stoudemire makes 25-foot three point jumper (Steve Nash assists)

It is in that same 7 minute period above where those 3 fateful Boris Diaw possessions exist. Doug Collins on the TNT broadcast kept saying it was a mis-match, Diaw on Ginobili and later Diaw on Finley. I like Collins, but I must respectfully disagree. Steve Nash makes 5 of the last 8 scores with a tough Bruce Bowen bumping him all quarter and you go to Diaw with the series on the line??

In the playoffs, in crunch time, I think playing the mis-match as opposed to having the ball in your best players hands is just not very cerebral. This is 2 games in a row now where Nash was clearly the best offensive player for the Suns down the stretch, yet they went with Diaw. Unsurprisingly, the result was the same.


After scoring 63 points in the first half, the Suns managed just 11 in the 3rd quarter. Why the difference? The Spurs adjusted to the Suns devastating PNR by overplaying Nash and rotating to cover Stoudamire rolling to the basket. They allowed Nash to get into the paint where they know he likes to pass it. The Suns adjusted to this by having Barbosa and Diaw take more shots. In hindsight, Nash should've taken a few more shots in that 3rd quarter, where he took only 2 (of which he made 1).

I watched the TNT broadcast post-game and I don't agree with Charles that the Suns played Denver-like defense. I thought overall the Suns did a decent job defensively, considering who they had to defend (Duncan-Parker-Ginobili). The real problem was the offense, and specifically as I showed here, who was taking the shots. If you're relying on Diaw to score 20 points, you're in trouble. If Barbosa is the guy you're hoping will break out and score 20 (instead of going 0-for-7), together with Diaw, you're in big trouble.

With the off-season in full-swing for most of you high school coaches, take a look at Billy Donovan's DVD on Offensive Skill Development. Coach Donovan is the head coach of 2-time National Champion Florida Gators. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.