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Suns using long break till season opener as an extra training camp

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (3) battle for the rebound during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — In the last three seasons, the Phoenix Suns have had seven, five and five days from the last preseason game until the season opener.

This year, it’s at an unusual nine, leaving the Suns almost too much time until the game.

The grind of a regular season includes staying in “game shape” with the proper mentality as well, and that’s something players can quickly fall out of. Remember, teams are traditionally playing games every 2-3 days. The All-Star break is the only gap like this that exists in the regular season, and that’s in February when everyone needs that time to recover and rest.

So, with this lull, head coach Monty Williams knew they’d have to have a specific plan in place for how to use the time.

“We’re trying to build conditioning but be smart, so we’re gonna go 5-on-5. Today was rather medium,” Williams said after practice on Wednesday. “Tomorrow will be more scrimmage and game-like, and then we’ll just use that same model.

“Maybe have an off-day and then do the same thing. Have a low, medium (and) high day to get ready for the season and then right before opening night will be an execution, non-contact day so we can go into opening night fresh and strong.”

Devin Booker phrased it as sort of an extra training camp and Williams agreed with that label.

“When we planned the season and saw this opportunity, you can look at it two ways,” Williams said.

The head coach said this particular stretch before the opener is “important” because he’s been purposefully not showing certain parts of the offense and there are a few more decisions left in the rotation for him to make choices on.

Turning things up a bit more than usual and having contact-oriented practices gives him that, as he called it, the opportunity to do so.

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