Suns Learning Playoff Basketball Before Postseason

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Watching game film is nothing new. The Suns have “looked at the tape” all season long, both as a team and individuals (Eric Bledsoe and the Morris twins are especially addicted to picking apart their own games this way).

Yet the team has noticed Head Coach Jeff Hornacek and his staff hitting pause more often lately. Smaller mistakes are no longer mentioned in passing. They are analyzed, picked apart and labeled for what they are. Important.

“When you play in the playoffs, every play is important,” Hornacek said. “You have to be ready to go.”

That’s the motivation behind the coaching staff’s recent uptick in play-by-play instruction. Whether the Suns end up making the postseason or not, they are learning playoff-quality basketball. The intensity and value of each possession is essentially the same at this point, because the Suns are fighting to extend their season just as much as if it were a postseason clash of wills.

“Every game is like a first-round game from here on,” Hornacek said.

Such intensity is fairly new for this crop of Suns, but not as new as you’d think, Hornacek says. Nine players have NCAA Tournament experience. Goran Dragic is less than a year removed from a leadership role on an international level at EuroBasket 2013.

And while the college game is not the NBA, Hornacek said the win-or-go-home feeling should be familiar.

“These guys should have experienced that when they were in college when they were playing, if they got in the NCAA Tournament,” Horancek said. “You have to approach that game like you need to win it. If our guys haven’t had that experience, it’ll be great for them. These games at the end of the season are the same way.”