Suns - Best Defense in the League?

In the past ten games, the Suns have "turned a corner," and defense is securing the rebound of their playoff stock. Grant Hill, Mikael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat are all great defenders, and I believe Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, and Channing Frye have all provided solid defense as well. Simplifying the defense has made it easier for the Suns' good defenders to cover up for Steve Nash.

In my opinion, the best measure of a defense is FG%, as well as points allowed. If the ball doesn't go in the hoop, and the opponent doesn't score much, then your defense is good. Let's look at the numbers, comparing Phoenix to three of the best defenses in the league (Boston, Chicago, and Miami), as well as the two leading teams in the west (LA Lakers and San Antonio). These numbers, gathered at, are for the last ten games of the season.

Opponent PTS
1. Chicago - 89.00
2. Boston - 89.90
3. Phoenix - 91.80
8. San Antonio - 94.90
9. LA Lakers - 95.30
10. Miami - 95.60

PT Differential
1. Miami - 9.80
3. Chicago - 7.20
3. San Antonio - 7.20
6. LA Lakers - 6.60
8. Phoenix - 6.00
12. Boston - 2.20

Opponent FG%
1. Miami - .416
2. Phoenix - .425
3. Boston - .428
4. Chicago - .429
11. LA Lakers - .453
13. San Antonio - .458

Opponent 3FG%
1. San Antonio - .246
2. Phoenix - .288
5. Chicago - .311
7. Boston - .321
15. LA Lakers - .349
16. Miami - .352

Rebound differential
1. Chicago - 7.10
7. Miami - 3.10
8. San Antonio - 3.00
10. LA Lakers - 2.30
15. Phoenix - -0.10
22. Boston - -2.60

At #3 in the league in points allowed (despite an offense that pushes the pace), and at #2 in the league in opponent FG%, I believe the Suns have easily been the best defensive team in the western conference over the past 10 games. Taking all the numbers into consideration, I think it's pretty clear they've been better than Boston, too. The tougher question is whether the Suns are better at defense than Chicago and Miami.

Although Phoenix doesn't have as great a point differential as those two teams, I would argue that their differential is lower because of poor offense. Remember, I'm suggesting they are the best defense in the league, not the best team in the league. As far as rebound differential, it is still a weakness, but rebounds are gathered on both sides of the court, and as long as you hold your own on the boards, Opponent FG% and points allowed are much better indicators of defense.

So what do you think...the Phoenix Suns: a new defensive force?

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