Suns ready for test from Spurs

Sunday, May 22, 2005

PHOENIX -- With an offense as relentless as the Arizona heat, the Phoenix Suns are trampling the conventional wisdom about defense being the way to go this time of year.

Through two rounds of the playoffs, NBA MVP Steve Nash and crew have taken the league's highest scoring average in 10 years and jacked it up nearly six points a game. They've done it while facing tricked-up defenses that have had more time to study them, and they've done it without their third-leading scorer the last four games.

Now comes the real challenge: Doing it in the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs, who are perfectly cast in the role of upholding conventional wisdom.

San Antonio has won two of the last six championships with defense. The Spurs allowed the fewest points in the league this season and recently had Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen, their best inside and outside stoppers, receive their seemingly annual spots on the NBA's all-defensive team.

They also come into this series well-tested, having already eliminated high-scoring teams in the Denver Nuggets and Seattle SuperSonics.

"It will be a very big challenge for us," Nash said. "If we continue to show the pressure and poise we've shown all season, we'll be all right."

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