Phoenix Suns vs Golden State Warriors: Lineups, preview & prediction 3/31/18
The Warriors’ stars are gradually returning to the floor, and should have no problems beating the Suns at home on Sunday
The Warriors have received a welcome boost in personnel throughout the week, regaining all three of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. In Thompson’s first game back they disposed of the Kings easily, winning 112-96.
The win is irrelevant in terms of the standings, though, as Golden State are firmly entrenched in second place. Their 55-21 record leaves them seven games behind Houston and eight games ahead of the Trail Blazers.
They will, however, be eager for their returning players to get back into form, and they will have a great chance to do so against the Suns. Phoenix are playing for last place and doing a good job. They have lost 14 games in a row to give themselves the worst record in the league at 19-58.
Three keys to the game
Are the Warriors’ stars rusty? – The signs against the Kings pointed to no. Thompson was excellent with 25 points on 19 shots, Durant had 28 points, ten rebounds and five assists, and Green had eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block.
Phoenix’s offense – The Suns are woeful at both ends of the floor, particularly in recent games, but their offense has probably been the weaker end of the floor. During their 14 game losing streak, they are dead last in the league for offensive efficiency, scoring just 96.6 points per 100 possessions.
Limiting turnovers – Golden State turns it over a lot, though they can be excused for this given their extraordinary assist rate. Still, coach Steve Kerr has in the past mentioned it as a point of interest for his side, so he would have been pleased to see them give it up just ten times against Sacramento. Phoenix are probably not the team most likely to punish them for mistakes, but the Warriors would still be eager to clean up their offense before the playoffs.
Matchup to watch
Troy Daniels vs Klay Thompson – Daniels has been a low minutes rotation player throughout his five-year career and has represented five different teams in this time. This season he is averaging 9.2 points, a career-high albeit not a significant one, but in the last few games he has shown signs he warrants a greater role in an NBA side. He is averaging 17.7 points in his past seven games and has connected on a huge 32 3-pointers on 45.7% shooting in this time.
He will be challenged by one of the best one-on-one defenders in the league in Thompson, though, and also have to deal with the fact that his opponent is one of the best shooters in history at the other end of the floor. Thompson is averaging 19.8 points this season, a slight regression from recent years, but he is shooting an absurd 44.2% from long range, a career high.
Golden State Warriors predicted starting lineup
PG – Quinn Cook | SG – Klay Thompson | SF – Kevin Durant | PF – Draymond Green | C – JaVale McGee
Phoenix Suns predicted starting lineup
PG – Tyler Ulis | SG – Troy Daniels | SF – Josh Jackson | PF – Dragan Bender | C – Marquese Chriss
Green took the Suns apart when the sides met two weeks ago, taking on a greater role in the absence of Durant, Thompson, and Curry with aplomb. He scored 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting, connected on four 3-pointers, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished out eight assists and contributed a steal and a block.
Durant has been problematic for the Suns in his 34 career games against them as he has against most teams. In these matchups, he averages 27.3 points on 48.4% shooting, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks.
The Warriors have only been given a 14 point handicap in this game, which won’t be enough for the woeful Suns. Phoenix are more than happy to lose, and without Booker seriously lack good players at either end of the floor. Golden State will blow past this line.
The Warriors could win this game with their eyes closed. Even if their stars weren’t back, their second tier players would still get the job done against a Suns team eyeing the number one pick. Durant, Thompson, and Green will use this game to dust off the cobwebs and ease their way back into NBA basketball. They’ll have the game sewn up early and be able to watch the last quarter from the bench as their side wins 116-99.
The game will be broadcast locally on NBC Sports Bay Area and Fox Sports Arizona. Tip-off is at 8:30pm ET.