Preview: Golden State Warriors (13-11) vs. Phoenix Suns (13-9)

Time: 6 p.m. MST






The hooping and hollering after a Friday night win against the Sacramento Kings was the loudest the Phoenix Suns’ locker room has been in at least a year, and that could only make you wonder what was next for Jeff Hornacek’s young team. The Golden State Warriors roll into U.S. Airways Center on Sunday and Phoenix will be fighting off the makings of a letdown.

The Warriors meanwhile await the return of swingman Andre Iguodala, who has done everything from guard the best perimeter player to playing point guard for a team that’s been shorthanded at different points of the season. Golden State has gone 5-6 since Iguodala’s injury and has suffered a dramatic defensive dropoff without him and former Suns backup Jermaine O’Neal, among others.

As for the Suns, a continued success rate by the backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe will force the Warriors’ own dynamic backcourt to expend some energy on the defensive end.

Can turning the ball over early be avoided?

If you haven’t noticed, the Suns’ offense is at its best when Goran Dragic is slicing and dicing defenses or floating around the perimeter in the flow of the offense. While Eric Bledsoe can best take a broken play and make something of it, it’s Dragic who has been scoring at a wild clip consistently so far this year. It was the same case Friday against the Kings, but both Dragic and Bledsoe struggled with early turnovers.

Eventually, things settled down in the second half. It helped that Sacramento was going with a defense-optional look. Golden State hasn’t played great defense of late, but it’s the type of team that has the firepower in the starting lineup to build an insurmountable lead with transition buckets and quick three-pointers. Phoenix should be confident enough to grind it out at home.

Especially since the Warriors’ bench unit is Draymond Green and a hiring sign hanging in the window, the Suns will be well off if they survive into the Morris twins’ substitution.

How well does Goran Dragic shoot from three?

The Phoenix point guard swore he was open on all five of his made three-pointers last time out. He made four, and he has gotten consistent looks playing with Bledsoe. The Suns’ ball movement has found itself now that rotations and roles have been settled coinciding with the health of the team finally being there.

Do the Suns do anything to stop Steph Curry or Klay Thompson, or no?

The Splash Brothers will be a nuisance to the Suns just as the Suns will be to them. Running Curry and Thompson might make them miss a few important shots down the stretch if we’re talking about offense acting as the best defense. P.J. Tucker could very well earn himself stints against both Harrison Barnes and Thompson, but there will almost always be three long range shooters on the floor at a time for Golden State.

Bledsoe is touted for his defense, but that’s when he’s not having major lapses himself. Against Isaiah Thomas of the Kings, he consistently was caught sleeping and playing too far off the Sacramento point guard. It nearly caused Hornacek to substitute him out with just a minute to play in the first half — the coach brought Dragic to the bench but Bledsoe woke up just in time to avoid a benching.

That message better be stuck in Bledsoe’s mind. If he lets Curry get comfortable, it’ll be a long night for the Suns.

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