Time: The Suns host the Hawks on Friday at 7 p.m. at US Airways Center.
Records: Suns 20-39 (fifth in the Pacific Division) vs. Atlanta 33-23 (second in the Southeast Division)
PG: Goran Dragic (14.1 points and 6.9 assists) vs. Jeff Teague (14.5 points and 7.2 assists)
SG: P.J. Tucker (5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds) vs. Devin Harris (8.9 points and 2.7 assists)
SF: Jared Dudley (11.2 points and 3.4 rebounds) vs. Kyle Korver (11.3 points and 4.0 rebounds)
PF: Luis Scola (12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds) vs. Josh Smith (17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds)
C: Marcin Gortat: (11.4 points and 8.6 rebounds) vs. Al Horford (17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds)
With morale high after two-straight wins and an overtime road win over the Spurs, Suns Head Coach Lindsey Hunter doesn’t want his team to rest on its laurels. Facing a Hawks team that’s now won four consecutive games, he knows that they are a dangerous bunch.
“They have fast guards that can really penetrate the defense,” Hunter said. “They also have bigs that are strong and can shoot.”
Atlanta is seventh in the NBA in field goal percentage and second in assists. However, Phoenix has won seven of their last nine against the Hawks.
One of the reasons the Hawks are so hot right now is the play of center Al Horford. Against Utah on Wednesday, the Hawks big man scored 16 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and tallied 15 rebounds and five blocks to lead Atlanta over the Jazz.
Horford has averaged 25.4 points and 12.4 boards on 68-percent shooting in his last seven games. Atlanta has won six of its last seven contests.
Now in his sixth season, Horford returned this season from a pectoral injury that limited him to 11 regular-season games last season. He has responded by averaging career highs of 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds.
“He’s a great player,” Hunter said. “He’s an All-Star. He shoots the ball well and he’s getting better every year.”
Although Coach Hunter said his defense plans to “stick to the script,” if “Big Al” gets going, he’ll make adjustments. Suns center Marcin Gortat will inherit the challenge of defending Horford out of the gates.
“Hopefully (Marcin’s) length can bother him a little bit,” Hunter said.
Currently on a six-game road trip, the Hawks are 3-0.
After the Suns host the Hawks tonight, they won’t suit up again for a game until they host Toronto on Wednesday. This extended break will allow Coach Hunter to continue implementing more of his coaching philosophies.
He joked that he may put his squad through two-a-days like training camp.
“The guys really want to get collectively get better,” Hunter said. “I’ve been around teams in this situation that have kind of mailed it in. And you don’t see that with us, and I’m excited about that.”
When asked about how much of his systems he has instilled thus far, Hunter laughed. Although, he does believe his defense is ahead of his offense.
“There’s no way I could do all of the things that I need to do,” the Suns’ head man said. “But defensively I think we’re going to push forward and slowly incorporate some things offensively that I like.”