I have been talking all season about how this year's Suns have been working to make the offense less dependent on Nash.
We saw it early in the year with more plays going through Hill and Diaw and now with Shaq we are seeing the offense flow through him more too.
I decided to re-watch the 1st and 4th Qtrs of the Houston game and chart the offensive possessions and see how this really looked:
1st Qtr: Nash played the first 9 min and there were 14 half court set possessions. Steve ran the offense on only 6 of those. 4 times the ball went through Shaq in the post almost always feed by Hill. Twice Diaw was the man in the post after Shaq went out. And once LB created a look for himself and on another Hill ran the show feeding Amare.
4th Qtr: Nash played the final 8:07 and when he came back in the game was still close enough to matter. This time the story was different. There were again 14 possessions but Nash lead the way on 12 of those with one each going to Diaw and Shaq. Of those 12, 5 were classic top of the key pick and rolls with Amare. Nash also had two bad turnovers during this stretch. Once he dribbled off his foot and the other was a bad pass to Shaq in traffic.
And what about when Nash was out? In those 7 minutes at the end of the 1st qtr and beginning of the 4th we saw a total of 11 half court possessions. 5 times the ball went through Shaq in the post. 2 times LB ran a nice two man game w/ Diaw. And then 2 times each for Diaw and Gordan.
So, what's all this mean?
- Nash isn't working as hard early in the game
- The Suns are figuring out how to use Shaq and feed him the ball in good position using the taller wing players like Hill, Diaw and Giricek to make the entry pass
- With Nash off the floor they have many more options then in past years
- At the end when the game needed to be closed, Nash and Amare did their thing like always
Update [2008-3-24 10:44:34 by srp]:
I did re-watch the 2nd qtr. Amare got a lot of touches. On five occassions he either came off a screen and created or simply got the ball in isolation. He finished 3 of those and was fouled on the other two and hit all 4 FT's of course. So 10 of his 18 points in the quarter were unassisted. I did see LB and Amare run a pick and roll early in the quarter which was nice since we usually don't see LB do that. They seemed to be experimenting once they had the big lead.