If the NBA playoffs started today, the Phoenix Suns would be participating.
At 30-21, the Suns would be the seventh seed and matched up with the San Antonio Spurs, which would be a pretty satisfying way for Phoenix to return to the postseason.
But of course, the playoffs do not start today, and the team still has 31 regular season games to get through before any postseason would begin.
“Usually the first 20 or 25 games and then the last 20, 25 games teams are really amped up,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek told the Doug and Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “It’s the excitement in the beginning, then it’s the focus in the end on playoff positioning and that stuff.
“It all starts now, no games are going to be easy.”
The first-year coach added that there will be times throughout the course of a season where a team may be able to earn a win without playing its best due to the opponent’s focus being off but that will not be the case as teams are fighting for the postseason.
“If you don’t bring it now you’re not going to win.”
So, he said, the Suns need to look at each of the remaining games as a “one-and-done” type of situation, while playing the type of basketball that got the team to this point.
Continue to pass the ball and play defense, and the coach believes his team will be playing past game No. 82. But it’s going to be a fight until the end.
“The way it’s looking like is maybe four teams battling for the last three spots, so there’s going to be a good team that doesn’t make it,” he said, pointing to the fact that seeds six (Dallas) and nine (Memphis) are separated by just two games, with both the Suns and Golden State Warriors sandwiched in between. “And we look at it in our little three-game sets, and we want to be at about a plus-six, I told those guys, if we get a plus-six in the way we do it, you’ve got a chance to make the playoffs. That puts us at about 47 (wins), so I would say it’s got to be somewhere in that range.”
The team’s first test post-All-Star break comes Tuesday night as the Suns hit the road against the Denver Nuggets. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. and the game can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.