PHOENIX — This one was tabbed as an important game in the preseason. After all, playing for lottery positioning is all the rage. But nope, the Phoenix Suns host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday with Phoenix fighting for playoff positioning and the Sixers trying to shovel to themselves to the bottom.
The Suns are coming off their worst loss of the year, while Philly last played seven days ago. A few fun pregame items from the coaches media dealings.
- Borrowing a tool from former Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, Hornacek said Phoenix is just trying to flush the ugly loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. “We had a game last night?” Hornacek said. “It took 28 games to have a bad one like. The best thing to do is give it the ol’ Cotton saying, ‘Flush it down the toilet.’ Basically what we told (the team) is, ‘You have to know what this league’s about.’ We just beat Golden State a week and a half prior to that, I think. They’re a playoff team, and (you) knew they were going to come out after you. They were quicker to all the balls. That’s just part of the lessons our young guys can learn. Can’t just show up against these teams, especially on the road to a team you just beat.”
- Hornacek played 132 games with Philadelphia after being traded from Phoenix in the deal that made Charles Barkley a member of the Suns. There, he averaged 18.1 points per game, 6.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds, but the Sixers weren’t especially great. “It was a tough situation,” Hornacek said. “It’s a basketball city, they’re passionate about basketball. I tried to do the best I could but our team just wasn’t quite there. Again, you can have those types of seasons. It made me appreciate, when I left there, playing for a winning team.”
- Hornacek on the young Sixers, who were supposed to be joined by the Suns in the great tank race of 2013-14. “Brett Brown is getting these guys to pass the ball, move quickly, cut hard. Constantly they’re moving. They’ve got the No. 1 team in pace; wish we had their pace.”
- As much as this could become a high-scoring game, the transition defense was a point of emphasis for both teams. To Phoenix’s advantage, 76ers coach Brett Brown said defending the three-point shot and transition defense are the biggest weaknesses for his team — and those are probably the Suns’ two offensive strengths, last night aside.
- The Sixers will be without swingman Evan Turner, but his absence is only precautionary in nature. Brown admitted he’s taking a Gregg Popovich-like approach by playing it on the safe side. Asked pregame who would replace Turner, Brown said he didn’t know … then he admitted he was lying. And no he didn’t give an answer. The starting lineup includes Michael Carter-Williams at point, Elliot Williams at shooting guard, Hollis Thompson and Thaddeus Young at forward, and Spencer Hawes at center.
- It’s Jeff Hornacek Bobblehead night. The Suns coach did not appear too impressed with the resemblance. “Yeah it looks good … has the right number on it I guess,” he cracked.