Sixers’ emerging spark plug Raul Neto happy to be back in Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz
The reserve point guard is focused on making his first trip back here as normal as possible when facing his old team Wednesday night at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.
SALT LAKE CITY – Raul Neto has some fond memories from his time with the Utah Jazz.
It’s the team that gave him the opportunity to play in the NBA, and employed him the last four seasons.
Yet the 76ers reserve point guard was focused on making his first trip back here as normal as possible.
“Of course, I’ve been here four years, there’s emotion,” Neto said during Wednesday’s shootaround ahead of the Sixers’ game against the Jazz. "It’s an emotional game for me, but I think it’s just another game.
“Of course, I have friends on the other side. But when I step on the court, it’s to be focused to help Philadelphia get the win.”
Neto, whom the Sixers signed in free agency this summer, isn’t the only Sixer making a homecoming of sorts.
Trey Burke, another reserve point guard, spent the first three years of his career in Utah. Since then, the seventh-year veteran has had stops with the Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks before signing a partially guaranteed deal with the Sixers.
Burke had not seen any game action this season heading into Wednesday’s game. Neto, however, had played in five of the first six games.
He provided a spark in his 6 minutes, 2 seconds of action in Saturday’s victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. He scored four points on 2-for-3 shooting to go with two rebounds, two assists, one steal, and zero turnovers.
That performance led to Neto being called upon to play a season-high 12:23 on Monday against the Phoenix Suns. He was also a spark in that game.
“That’s what I do,” said Neto, who had two points and two assists on Monday. "You know, maybe at the beginning, I was trying to do something that I am not, trying to play in a different way.
“Now, I know what they want from me.”
The Atlanta Hawks selected him with the 47th overall pick in the 2013 draft and traded immediately traded him to Utah. However, Neto continued to play in Spain for the next two seasons before joining the Jazz for the 2015-16 season.
As a rookie, he started 53 games in place of injured point guard Dante Exum. In his four seasons in Utah, Neto averaged 4.8 points and 1.9 assists while shooting 37.7 percent on three-pointers.
He was averaging 2 points, 1.2 assists and 5.6 minutes with the Sixers heading into Wednesday. He had not attempted a three-pointer.
“They gave me the opportunity to play in the league, which I’m grateful for,” he said of the Jazz. “Now, I’m back here with another team. I’m happy to be back and excited for that game.”