The Phoenix Suns are living by the cliche’ that says a team’s defense will be ahead of its offense at the beginning of a new season.
With the opener against the Dallas Mavericks at Talking Stick Arena Wednesday night, head coach Jeff Hornacek made clear they’re going to have to rely on stopping opponents until the other side of the ball has time to catch up.
“I would probably say the defense is a little better right now,” said Hornacek after practice on Tuesday. “Offensively, we’re still thinking about a lot of things because we’ve had illnesses and stuff like that to some of our main guys. We haven’t been able to get everything in there and really go over a lot. We tried to put a lot of it in there and we put it in, review it the next day. There’s still a lot of things offensively that we can continue to work on as the season goes. Defense can win you games when the offense isn’t going.”
Hornacek is referring to players like starting point guard Eric Bledsoe and third PG Ronnie Price, who each only played in half of the preseason games. Phoenix’s issues are more about the counter-action they can use than its base offense.
“We still have sets that they’re going to run,” continued Hornacek. “I think what it comes down to is all the little wrinkles you can do off all these plays. We haven’t put all of those in. They’ll do some of that naturally. When you’re a player, some of the wrinkles you can call, these guys just happen to do the way the defense plays it.”
The power of intuition has to be acted upon versus structure when a defense takes away the top options during a called offensive set. In some cases, this may even turn out to be playing to the roster’s strengths.
“I think every day you see a little growth,” said center Tyson Chandler. “I think that’s the right idea for this team and this group because we have incredible athletes. I think the more that we’re just playing off of instinct the better.”