Seasons ago the Utah Jazz hired Jeff Hornacek as an associate coach, a specialist who was there to help mentor and try to fix the shot of Andrei Kirilenko and DeShawn Stevenson. Jeff stayed with the Jazz and worked his way up from part time help to being a full-time assistant head coach sitting on the bench. He left the team with the blessings of the franchise to return to the desert and take over the head coaching job for the Phoenix Suns. He turned them around and brought excitement back to a fanbase that had to languish under diminishing returns. A year later the Utah Jazz hired Quin Snyder to be their developmental coach of the present and follow the rise of the Suns back to respectability.
As players, Hornacek was a combo guard and Snyder was a point guard. Tonight's game appears to be focused on the guard play as well as Phoenix's rotation boasts Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, Zoran Dragic, Tyler Ennis, and Archie Goodwin. No disrespect to Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Miles Plumlee, or any of their other bigs, but this is a perimeter oriented club that loves to space the floor, drive, dish, and take threes.
Sound like any team you've been watching lately? The Jazz will counter attack with Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Dante Exum, Ian Clark, and Rodney Hood -- all guys who can drive and dish and shoot. Effectively these two teams should be able to match up well with one another and excel at a quick pace.
Basically, these two teams are going to play like the early 90s versions of the Jazz and Suns -- the versions that we've seen growing up.
The major difference here is that the Jazz are much bigger inside and better. If Utah can dominate inside this could be a much different game than the potential hyper-space remix of 90s basketball with lots of passing and penetration.
So far this preseason the Suns have lost each of their road games, save for a 6 point win in overtime against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers. I'm not afraid of them on defense, as they give up 96.3 ppg, it's their offense that's going to be the issue as they play vast and lose and have a +8.5 margin in points, despite being so poor on the road. The Jazz have a preseason average margin of +10.3 points, and have been holding teams down to 91.9 ppg.
They will be if the Jazz can play their game, not get sucked into the Suns game, and remember to use the inside advantage early and often. If Eric Bledsoe can get our bigs in foul trouble that hurts, but tonight is going to be a tune up for both teams. The last thing each coach wants is to see a player get injured in the last preseason game. So, expect the teams to try out a few things, normalized, then take the foot off the pedal in the middle of the third quarter.
In the big picture it doesn't matter who wins this game tonight; rather, what matters is that both teams continue to improve and reclaim their storied histories. Furthermore, It's sad that these two teams, led by guards, will play the day after Steve Nash's career effectively ended. These young guards have a chance to honor Nash with great play tonight. And really, Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and Gerald Green vs. Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Gordon Hayward will be exciting Nash-like basketball.
If you are able to watch tonight, you are going to be in for a fun game, and a prelude to the regular season. The Jazz and Suns were bullies of the late 80s and 90s. They both had contenting teams since then, but now both are primed to climb back up to their historically significant statuses.