Tuesday , Apr , 03 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Dallas Can’t Handle Phoenix’s Fast Lineup

Sunday’s game between Dallas and Phoenix confirmed one thing: the Mavericks have no answer for the Suns’ fast lineup.

Let me explain. After beating Dallas on March 14th, Steve Nash’s crew hit a rough patch, dropping games to weaker teams like Golden State and Sacramento.

 And whenever the Suns lose a few games, the doubters come out of the closet. Critics dismiss Phoenix as a novelty act. Fans appreciate the entertainment, but wonder if 7 seconds to shoot can actually deliver an NBA Title.

 Give Coach Mike D’Antoni his due. He could have listened to the doubters and implemented elements of a more traditional system.

But the Suns’ sideline boss came to a different conclusion: the league’s fastest team had to get faster.

D’Antoni felt his team needed an injection of energy and enthusiasm-nothing more. There would be no major changes, only tweaks. The Suns would keep their identity.

So Boris Diaw was dropped from the starting lineup. Leandro Barbosa, the NBA’s fastest player, took his place in the opening five.

The decision to tweak paid dividends in Sunday’s game. Dallas couldn’t stop or even contain Barbosa. The ‘Brazilian blur’ went off, hitting a bevy of shots to finish with 29 points. Most importantly, his speed and quickness created a tempo that favored Phoenix.

Steve Nash makes the Suns go. But Barbosa’s quickness puts pressure on the defense, forcing opponents to play at an unfamiliar pace.

Dallas and Phoenix won’t face each other for the rest of the regular season. If they meet in the playoffs, the Mavericks better adjust to the faster version of the Suns.