For the past few weeks the Phoenix Suns have been aiming to get over the .500 hump.
Unfortunately for them, the mission hasn’t gone well so far.
On Jan. 22, the team epically collapsed late in Detroit, scoring just 13 points in the fourth quarter to gift-wrap the game for the Pistons.
And then on Friday with the Thunder in town, Phoenix was outscored by 11 in the final quarter and fell eventually by four.
Now back to two games under the 50-50 mark, the Suns face a familiar foe in Golden State with the chance to even up their record.
The only catch is the team must defeat the Warriors twice to do so.
“It doesn’t matter who the team is,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry told The Arizona Republic. “It’s tough to sweep those games. Home-away, away-home. It becomes really tough. It’s a challenge and they’re playing good basketball. They’re very offensive-minded. Their backcourt is as good as any young backcourt in the NBA. It’s going to be a challenge but it’s kind of one of those deals where for us to stay in this race, it’s something we have to find a way to get done.”
Monday is the first of back-to-back matchups between the two division rivals with the second coming Thursday in Phoenix.
The Suns have won three straight against the Warriors including the two teams’ only meeting this season, a 107-101 Phoenix victory at Golden State in which the Suns shot 54.8 percent from the field.
Departed Sun Jason Richardson led the team in scoring that night with 25 while Steve Nash dropped 16 dimes.
Warriors guard Monta Ellis scored 38 but missed a couple late free throws that allowed Phoenix to pull away.
Golden State is coming off an impressive win Saturday at home against Chicago.
The usually less than rock solid Warriors defense held the Derrick Rose-led Bulls to just 90 points on 46 percent shooting.
Monday night probably won’t provide similar results for either team.
Historically, when the Suns and Warriors clash, offensive fireworks and olé defense are the headlines.
Over the last 11 meetings, Phoenix has averaged 122 points.
In order to win, the Suns will have to do a good job guarding the three-point line against the NBA’s best long-range shooting team (40 percent).
The issue for the Suns of late has been holding on to leads late in contests.
Phoenix almost gave away a game to the Hornets, then let the Bucks back in before pulling away late and then went ice cold in the fourth quarter against the Thunder.
Monday’s game will likely end up somewhere in the 110-120 range, so whoever falters on the offensive side of the ball late in the game might end up coming away with a loss.