Some kind of season the Golden State Warriors are having huh? Tied for the fifth-seed in the western conference, only one game behind Memphis for the fourth spot, in the midst of a three game winning-streak, Klay Thompson looks like the second-coming of Reggie Miller, Stephen Curry is having an incredible season, and Mark Jackson is one of the top candidates for coach of the year.
While everything seems to be cotton candy and rainbows for the Warriors, things are a little bit different for the Suns. After the Suns beat the Lakers in a dramatic fashion on Wednesday night in what was the homecoming for Steve Nash, the Suns failed to close the deal against a Dirk-less Mavericks team.
“We are still young in this process and you kind of expect things like that to happen,” interim coach Lindsey Hunter said of his team’s inability to get stops down the stretch. “I know what lies ahead of us and I know how hard it is, just trying to get everybody collectively as a group to understand that you have to do it together.”
Heading into tonight’s showdown between the Suns and Warriors, the Warriors are the favorite by a 9.0 point margin according to ESPN.com. The Warriors are a bit banged up right now as they’ve got Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Carl Landry and Stephen Curry all listed as day-to-day. Both Landry, Bogut and Barnes are expected to suit-up for the Warriors tonight given that all three guys played on Thursday in their win against Dallas, and all three guys participated in the team’s shoot-around on Saturday; Stephen Curry is a game-time decision.
The Suns still has both Jermaine O’Neal and Goran Dragic listed as day-to-day. Dragic is dealing with minor issues with his elbow and knee which isn’t by any means serious and he’s expected to play tonight against the Warriors; Dragic suffered the injuries during practice on Thursday. O’Neal is a game-time decision for the Suns as he’s finally ready to return to the court after he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat; he claims he’ll “Definitely” Play Tuesday against Memphis but he’s a game-time decision tonight.
Keys to the game: Suns
– Don’t leave the Warriors shooters! Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are ranked 2nd and 3rd in the NBA in three-point field goals made and both guys are shooting the long ball with incredible consistency; Thompson has a 3-point field goal percentage of 39%, Curry 45%.
– No turnovers! The Warriors are one of the most consistent offensive teams in the NBA, the Suns simply cannot afford to make life easier for the Warriors on the offensive end.
– Rebounding! The Suns will need to find a way to battle those Golden State boys for rebounds. David Lee has been a monster on the boards pulling down over 11 rebounds per game which is ranked 6th in the NBA, and now that the Warriors got Andrew Bogut back….WATCH-OUT!
Keys to the game: Warriors
– Push the tempo! The Suns are playing their second game of a back-to-back set, and all of the Suns starters logged at least 31 minutes last night; they’re tired. If the Warriors manage to push the tempo for 48 minutes, chances are, Phoenix will struggle to keep up.
– Get it to Klay Thompson! Thompson has been hotter than the sun in his past two games, averaging 29.5 points while shooting over 57% from the field and has shot 60% from beyond the arc, nailing a total of nine three-pointers in his last two games; astonishing!
– Hot or cold? One key variable that’s contributed to the Warriors surprising success this season has been the Warriors top-notch shooting, however so much of their success is predicated on their shooters making shots that it’s also become their Achilles heel. The Suns did a great job on opening night bothering the Warrior’s gunners, holding Curry and Thompson to 8 of 30 shooting from the floor which ultimately gave the Suns to win the ball game but the Suns fell short 87-85. If the Suns are able to replicate their defense efforts on opening night against the Warriors tonight, the Suns will once again give themselves a great chance to win this game.
Match-up of the night!
– Since Stephen Curry may not play tonight, I want to look at David Lee vs. Luis Scola. Both guys exhibit such old school, throwback styles of play at the power forward position, it’ll be a good one to watch.