Welcome to the Greatest Moment series at Last Word On Pro Basketball, where we’ll present to you each NBA team’s greatest moment of the 21st century. From draft lottery luck, to a franchise-changing trade, to the sweet taste of a championship, every NBA team has had its own special moment to look back on.
Greatest Phoenix Suns Moment of the 21st Century: Steve Nash’s First MVP Season In 2004-2005
In his heyday, Nash was one of the most entertaining players to watch in the Association. It took him a little while to properly adjust to the NBA game, as he struggled mightily in his first stint with the Suns. He was initially dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks (per sportsday.dallasnews.com), and that’s where his career took off playing with fellow star Dirk Nowitzki. That said, Nash blossomed into a superstar as the main act in Phoenix under head coach Mike D’Antoni after six seasons in Dallas.
In 2004-2005, the Canadian import was at the forefront of the Suns more than doubling their win total from 29 to 62, per Basketball Reference. Phoenix led the NBA in scoring at 110.4 points per game, as their uptempo style was scorching opponents. Nash was constantly pushing the ball down the floor, even after an opponent’s made basket. He was running D’Antoni’s system perfectly.
There was the floppy hair, and the wide-open offense in the desert. It was one of the most well-orchestrated attacks the league had ever seen, with Nash driving and dishing to everybody. As a result, the Suns led the NBA in field goals made per game, according to teamrankings.com.
They were ahead of their time when it came to threes, too. Nash and D’Antoni had the same vision in regards to analytics, and Phoenix executed that philosophy better than anyone else, as they led the league in threes made per game, per teamrankings.com.
Making Teammates Better
Sharing the rock is key for any offense to flourish, and that was exactly what Nash was doing in his best season. Fellow teammate Amar’e Stoudemire was an animal all year long, leading the Association in two-point field goals made, per Basketball Reference. The two-man game between Nash and Stoudemire was a thing of beauty. The young center was not the only player who benefited, though.
Another prime benefactor of the Suns run-and-gun offense was swingman Quentin Richardson. He was tied for the most made three-point field goals, and teammate Joe Johnson was also in the top ten. “Joe Cool” ended up having the best three-point percentage of his career that season as well at 47.9 percent, per Basketball Reference.
The main reason for that production was the pinpoint passing of Nash, who led the NBA in assists, and was a close second to Brevin Knight in assist percentage. However, he had 193 more total helpers than the second-place man in Stephon Marbury. Basically, he set anything and everything in motion, and the wins piled up. That year, the Suns tied their franchise record for most wins in a season, per landofbasketball.com. They were looking to keep that momentum going into the playoffs.
A Deep Playoff Run
In the playoffs, teams look to their stars to deliver in a big way. The Suns were leaning on Nash all year, and he was even better in the postseason. In the first round, Phoenix went against Pau Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies, and they had it all rolling in a four-game sweep.
Although Nash didn’t have his shot falling in the first two games, he had 28 assists, per Basketball Reference. The Suns then took care of business on the road, as bench scorer Jim Jackson was knocking down his threes.
Next up was a series with Nash’s old squad, the Mavericks. Initially, Phoenix blew the doors off the Mavs in Game 1, as they shot over 50 percent from three in a 25-point win. To the road team’s credit, Dallas would come back and steal Game 2 going back home for a pivotal Game 3. The two teams would also split there, with Stoudemire going off in a Game 3 win with 37 points. Nash would follow that up with a 48-point performance in a Game 4 loss.
The duo would then seal the deal with two straight victories to close out the series in six games, highlighted by Nash’s triple double in Game 5. Shawn Marion had a special night in a closeout Game 6 overtime victory in overtime with 38 points and 16 rebounds, setting up a matchup with the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t their best set of games. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker dispatched Nash and company in five games, but it was a fun run and Phoenix established themselves as one of the teams to watch in the NBA for a considerable stretch.
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