The Warriors had a comfortable win on Saturday, defeating the Spurs 122-105 at home. Draymond Green managed 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in a typical all-round display, while Klay Thompson had 25 points in the win. The Warriors retained their lead over the Rockets atop the Western Conference standings with the win and have a record of 43-13, half a game better than Houston.
Phoenix are suffering contrasting fortunes, having lost five in a row after a 113-123 defeat at the hands of the Nuggets. Elfrid Payton impressed with 19 points and nine assists in his first game in Phoenix while TJ Warren was excellent with 31 points on 13-17 shooting. The Suns are now tied for the second worst record in the west at 18-39, and are less than half a game ahead of the Kings in 15th.
Three keys to the game
Gap in offensive talent - The Warriors are the best offensive team in the NBA, if not of all time, and score 113.6 points per 100 possessions. In contrast, Phoenix are 28th. Their offensive rating of 102.0 is better than only the Bulls and the Kings, which is not great company to be keeping.
Gap in defensive talent - Unfortunately for the Suns, the gap in talent is not limited to the offensive end of the floor. Their 110.4 points allowed per 100 possessions is the worst in the NBA. Golden State allow just 103.9 points per 100 possessions, which is the sixth best in the league.
Devin Booker’s health - Booker has missed the past three games with a hip injury, and the Suns will need him to return in this game. He is the best player on their team, averaging 24.1 points and 4.9 assists per outing. If he returns, he may start alongside Payton, giving them a couple of guys who can run the offense, and a little more potency at this end of the floor.
Matchup to watch
Devin Booker vs Steph Curry - Obviously this depends on Booker’s availability, but if he gets up for the game, he may have an entertaining matchup with a player who has no doubt had a major influence on him growing up. Curry, as arguably the greatest shooter of all time, has revolutionized the game of basketball, and young players with the shooting talent of Booker are partially a product of Curry’s influence.
This season, Curry is averaging 26.9 points per game and is hitting 41.7% of 3-point attempts, an amazing feat considering he was stuck at around 36% for a large part of the season. Booker is at just 38.1%, but at 21 years of age he has time to continue developing his stroke. His 24.1 points per game are a career high, as are his 4.9 assists.
Golden State Warriors predicted starting lineup
PG - Steph Curry | SG - Klay Thompson | SF - Draymond Green | PF - Kevin Durant | C - Zaza Pachulia
Phoenix Suns predicted starting lineup
PG - Elfrid Payton | SG - Devin Booker | SF - TJ Warren | PF - Josh Jackson | C - Dragan Bender
Both of the splash brothers have had a great deal of success from beyond the arc against the Suns. Curry goes at 46.1% from downtown in 31 career games against Phoenix, and averages 3.5 made 3-pointers in these games on the way to 21.9 points and 6.6 assists. Thompson’s efficiency eclipses even that, as he has connected on 46.9% of his 145 career 3-point attempts against the Suns. He averages 20.1 points and 2.4 assists in these games.
It should come as no surprise that the Warriors are overwhelming favorites to win this game. The line has been set at an enormous 17 points, and as comfortably as they should win, it’s tough to back them to do so by more than this amount. They will likely finish the game before the end of the third period, but even then Phoenix could easily keep the margin below this amount. Take Phoenix at the line.
This game will present no problems for the Warriors, even though they aren’t playing at their best at the moment. Their big four is significantly better than anyone on the Phoenix roster, and if Booker doesn’t play this gap will be amplified even further.
Expect Curry, Thompson and Kevin Durant to run amok for about 25 minutes each, before sitting out the entire last quarter after they build a game-winning lead in the first 36 minutes. The Warriors will win this easily, running out 128-115 victors.
The game will be broadcast locally on NBC Sports Bay Area and Fox Sports Arizona. Tip-off is at 10:30pm ET.