I'm writing this post reliving some bad memories and moments in my life as a suns fan. My head still hurts from banging it on the wall and sometimes the coffee table. But enough about me, this post is about the Suns lack of late game execution.
First things first. I'm aware that the Suns have had some clutch shots in their recent history. Steve Nash against Dallas and New Jersey are the first ones that come to mind. Tim Thomas against the Lakers. Raja Bell against the Clippers. J-Rich this year against Memphis and last season vs OKC. Hedo has had a few clutch shots this season. Who can forget Rex Champan's crazy three against the Sonics. And Stephon Marbury hit a shot at the buzzer against the Spurs before his mind was filled with petroleum jelly cravings.
However, this post is about the Suns lack of execution when the clock is winding down. Sometimes Nash dribbles in the paint, stops his dribble and has nowhere to go and the clock expires. Broken plays where players aren't where they're supposed to be. A contested shot that was probably Plan Z. And for some odd reason, The Suns always give the other team enough time to either win it or tie it. Maybe it's because they believe they can tip the ball in if they miss. But good execution will negate having the need to throw up a shot with time left to spare.
Heal the Suns, make it a better a team after the jump. Will You Be There?
Let's look at some of the most common plays the Suns run this season. The Suns are known for their pick and roll and pick and pop, PnR with Warrick and PnP with Frye. This season, a lot of teams opt to switch their bigs on to Nash but I don't remember it happening too often with the clock winding down. But if they do, Frye or Warrick will have the mismatch in the post. They're also the possibility of Frye being uncovered after setting the screen for a wide open jump shot. Which is a good shot to have in my opinion. Another variation for the PnP or PnR is that Nash takes the shot off the dribble after a Frye screen. That shot in my opinion would be a rushed shot because Nash has poor clock awareness and the other team will be left with time to either win it or tie it. With Warrick setting the screen. I think Jason Richardon should be in the corner. Warrick will roll which will cause Jason's defender to help and leave Jason open for a shot. Jason can also move from the corner to the wing so nash can make an easier pass. There are a lot of different variation to the PnR and Nash is creative enough to make the right play depending on how other teams defend it.
Another play that I see the Suns run all the time (And I mean ALL the time) is Jason Richardson coming off a couple screens and running around the paint which sets up 16-18 ft jumper. It is a good play but the problem with it is that J-Rich isn't creative enough if the play breaks down.
There's always good old dependable Grant Hill. ISO for a midrange jumper. I think this play should only be run if Grant's defender is a poor defender or not athletic or long enough to bother the shot.
Drive and dish by Nash is a good option, too. Have Dudley or J-Rich in the corner and force their man to help on Nash. If they don't Nash is crafty enough to make the layup or if the big guarding the paint rotates over to Nash dish it to Warrick for a layup or Barron for a missed dunk. Nash is great at keeping his dribble alive but the risk with this play is him getting trapped and forced to pick up his dribble which will end up in with the clock expiring without a shot attempt.
There's always the Hedo 25-27 ft contested three pointer from the wing. He hit those twice this season when a clutch shot was needed.
I understand some plays can't be run because you never know how much time is left. So sometimes all the Suns need is to execute an out-of-bounds play for a quick shot and hope for the best.
I remember when "the big three" were assembled in Boston. ESPN asked Pierce, Allen and Garnett who would take the last shot as the time is winding down. Pierce and Garnett said Allen and Allen said whoever's open. So fellow Suns fans, who would you rather see take the final shot? Do we have somebody we can trust with taking the final shot? Should it be whoever's open? What kind of play would you like to see run?