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Boston, MA: Where the Suns Bench Happened (to kick the C's in the teeth)

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Jared Dudley demonstrates how he and his bench-mates held down the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Max Simbron)
Jared Dudley demonstrates how he and his bench-mates held down the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Max Simbron)

The play of the Suns bench in this win can not be overstated. While Rasheed Wallace and his Vitiligo spot was going 0'fer six behind the arc and Goran Dragic was running Eddie House of the line and forcing him to do something he doesn't like to do - dribble - the Suns bench was a combined + 42 compared to the Celtic's - 48.

And it wasn't the offensive punch from Leandro Barbosa that got it done for this group of 6th men. LB is still nursing a sore wrist so it was up to these scrappy youngsters to play...wait for it... DEFENSE!

In fact, Dragic, Dudley, Amundson and Clark only scored 18 total points in their combined 71 minutes of play as compared to 19 points from Daniels, Wallace, House and Mr. Candace Parker.

So how do 4 guys who scored one less point end up having such a huge impact on the game? Wait for it....DEFENSE!

In the second quarter the Suns went on an 11-1 run over a 4 minute stretch with the bench all playing big roles in that period. Dudley hit a big three to start the run. Clark stripped Wallace on the perimeter which lead to a Dragic-lead fast break and Lou did his Lou thing with a rebound and two missed free throws (oops).

Even more impressive and more impactful to the win was the opening stretch of the fourth quarter. The bench went on a 11-2 run to stretch a 2 point lead to 11 points with Nash on the bench. When was the last time that happened Suns fans? 2004? Nope. 2007? Nope. We are seeing something here that we've been waiting for a long, long time.

I am not a big fan of the +/- stat because there are so many other factors but in this game it is fair to say that Dudley (+14), Dragic (+12) and Lou (+10) deserved those numbers compared to Nash (-7), Amare (-9) and Hill (-7).

In fact the only Suns starters in the positive were Richardson (+7) and Frye (+5) and they both played significant minutes with the reserves.

That's not to say that Nash's big shot to seal the win wasn't BIG. Or Amare's block and late basket weren't key. And of course Richardson's (34 and 10) were crucial. But the importance of this young bench unit playing so well on the road and allowing Nash to be fresh for the final run and only play 35 minutes can not be overstated. I think I stated that already.

Here's what Boston coach Doc Rivers had to state about the Suns bench:

"And, hell, it’s rare when I’ll say ‘Keep Grant Hill on the floor,’ but we wanted him on the floor instead of Dudley, the way Dudley was playing. He was just a thorn in our butt. I mean, the biggest, one of their biggest plays is that back-cut down the stretch. But he did it all game. He was absolutely fantastic tonight. I thought Dudley was – him and Amundson – I thought those two were fantastic.”

The bad news is that the C's big front line of KG and Perkins killed the Suns in the paint (60-36) and in a series between these two teams there's no question that the Suns would be at a severe disadvantage. You just can't shoot 54% from behind the line every night.

The Boston defense rightly gets all the pub but the offense from their starting unit is much better than it was a few years ago. They move the ball really well and with a healthy KG they can score from pretty much anywhere.

This was a great road win for the Suns but in the scheme of things it doesn't change the power structure in the NBA but it is a shot across the bow to teams like New Orleans, Utah, Houston and the currently dysfunctional Portland Trail Blazers that the Suns are not going to go quietly into the night.

 

Linkage:

Game Highlights via They Who Shall Not Be Linked

 

 

It should not pass without notice that Amare is getting his lift back. Two weeks ago he doesn't make either of these plays:


 


 

Did you notice in this one that he literally dunked on KG's head while KG wanted no part of contesting that dunk?