Suns Take Perfect Preseason Record to San Antonio
Regardless of the player combinations Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek has used, the results have been wins through the first two preseason games.
That perfection will be tested at San Antonio, where Tim Duncan and the Spurs await.
San Antonio has been as experimental as the Suns during the early portion of the exhibition season. No Spurs player was on the floor for more than 24 minutes in their 95-93 overtime win over CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, with only two regulars (Duncan and Manu Ginobili) out of five players finishing in double figure scoring.
SUNS at SPURS
When: Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
Where: AT&T Center
Radio: Arizona Sports 620
Sunday should mark the last truly wide-ranging substitution patterns for the Suns. Hornacek stated last week that he intended to use varying lineups and combinations through the first three or so preseason games, though Thursday's win over Portland saw four less players see game action than the previous contest.
Marcus Morris and Miles Plumlee are two players with as-yet undefined roles who could continue to see consistent playing time after equally steady preseason efforts. Morris has scored a combined 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting through the first two games, while Plumlee has turned in a total of 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocks after two appearances off the bench.
Meanwhile Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe (nine steals through two games) will get a crack at one of the best backcourts of the 2013 postseason in Tony Parker and Danny Green, though the Spurs duo combined for just 11 points in the win over CSKA Moscow.
Dragic vs. Parker takes on an added meaning in light of recent summer events. The Spurs guard and France handed the Suns' playmaker and host nation Slovenia a quartefinal loss in EuroBasket 2013, which prevented them from medaling after a Cinderella run through the first two rounds of the tournament. Parker scored a game-high 27 points, while Dragic finished with 18 while leading two second-half comeback attempts that ultimately fell short.
While it's doubtful either point guard will play heavy minutes in an exhibition contest, expect Dragic to have a little extra motivation when they are on the floor.
The Spurs' backcourt rotation is deep even without preseason padding. Manu Ginobili continues his sixth-man role with Green starting alongside Parker. Australian national team veteran and NBA journeyman Patty Mills (14 points on Wednesday) provides an additional boost. San Antonio also boasts Cory Joseph, Nando De Colo and rookie Myck Kabongo.
While the starting guards might bring the attention, the Suns' reserves will have to bring the energy and efficiency in order to match up with the Spurs' backups.
The Spurs enter the season as a known commodity and the Suns are trying to establish an identity. The matchup forms a great opportunity both on team and individual levels. How will Phoenix's forward committees perform against Duncan and third-year standout Kawhi Leonard? Will Dragic and Bledsoe match the Spurs guards when it comes to execution? Can the Suns big men be conscious of the difference between bodying Tiago Splitter and shadowing Matt Bonner?
Hornacek has often cited the need for constant effort, but he's also heaped praise on players for their basketball I.Q. Performing well in a rare early Sunday matchup against a contender would be a great way to earn more of that — as well as some extra consideration for significant minutes or roles.