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Counterintuiting Suns-Spurs

As everyone knows, Phoenix versus San Antonio isn’t just a playoff contest, it’s a grand clash of visions. The Spurs, led by “The Big Fundamental” epitomize the ethic of Playing the Right Way that’s beloved by cranky old men but not so much by fans. The run-and-gun Suns, by contrast, are an aesthetic pleasure but, perhaps, Not Built for the Playoffs.

Far be it from me to actually disagree with this characterization, whose basis is clear enough to anyone who follows the NBA, but one wrinkle does strike me as missing from this narrative. Steve Nash, the Phoenix leader, is a quintessential Play The Right Way point guard — pass-first guy whose scoring game is dominated by the traditional Play The Right Way skill of accurate jump (and free throw) shooting. San Antonio, by contrast, has Tony Parker as its floor general. A small, quick shoot-first point guard who relies on penetration to score. He’s a classic Play The Wrong Way player. So how can he be running the offense for the quintessential Play The Right Way team?

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