Tonight's game against the Phoenix Suns (6:00pm AZ time on FoxSports Arizona) will be a bit of a homecoming for some of the Warriors, with Steve Kerr (head coach), lead assistant Alvin Gentry and the Brazilian Blur Leandro Barbosa all coming back to where they made their mark in past seasons.
But the Suns have to be more focused on the game than checking in with their former employees. Only Goran Dragic was a Kerr draftee, and only he and Markieff Morris played for Gentry in Phoenix. Barbosa had a return to Phoenix last spring that was marred by injury and didn't provide the positive impact the Suns had hoped.
The Phoenix Suns will recognize Lance Corporal Brandon Coleman Jr. as the Streets of New York "Welcome Home Hero". Coleman returned home to his mother, father (a veteran of the Marines) and younger siblings on Monday, November 3 following his first tour in Afghanistan, where he was awarded the Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom medal, Overseas Service medal and the NATO Service medal.
New coach Steve Kerr has the Warriors playing the prettiest brand of basketball there is. They are passing like crazy, lead the league in pace, and at the same time play the best defense in the game.
In fact, it's the Warriors defense that has the team 5-0 moreso than their offense. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are putting up 50 of the Warriors 107 points per game, while only one other player averages double figures (Draymond Green, 12.8 per game). The Warriors barely score more than the Suns per possession this season.
But the Warriors defense is stellar, anchored by Andrew Bogut in the middle and Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the wings. The Warriors have played most of the season without David Lee, so their four man is mostly Green who is really a small forward.
After Friday's loss, coach Hornacek said the team might make a minor rotation change soon.
"PJ played well, you know, he's one of our aggressive players," Hornacek said after the Kings loss. "We need that intensity from everybody. He didn't care who he guarded, if it was a big guy, small guy, he wanted to take the challenge. You know, again, he's kind of our guy, our energy guy. So we'll probably have to get him in earlier, I guess."
It might not happen tonight, but soon enough I think Tucker will be back in the starting lineup. Regardless, he's a sure 30-minute-a-night guy which will eat into Marcus Morris and Gerald Green minutes.
Last year's Suns-Warriors series
The teams split their season series last year, with both teams winning their two home games. The Suns beat the Ws on December 15 by a 106-102 score in what was one of the early "big" wins of the season. Both teams shot lights out on threes and were even on the boards, and both teams' guards were the best players on the court. The Suns eeked out a win with a better supporting cast that night, and partially thanks to a 1-for-6 free throw shooting performance by Andrew Bogut.
Two weeks later, the Warriors drubbed the Suns by 29 in Cali. Everyone on the Suns played poorly.
In February, the Bledsoe-less Suns shot lights out to beat the Warriors, with Dragic going for 34 and 10 and Gerald Green pumping in 25 of his own. P.J. Tucker contributed 16 points and 15 rebounds. Golden State played without Andrew Bogut and David Lee in that game.
The Warriors won the final matchup of the season in Cali. The Suns played well on offense but could not stop the Warriors from scoring.
The (potential) Lineups
David Lee is out with an ankle injury.
The Key Matchup
The most obvious matchup is the Splash Brothers versus and three-headed monster of the Suns. Unfortunately for the Suns, the Splash Brothers have been stellar while the Hydra has not. The Suns will need vintage performances from Dragic and Bledsoe, plus a perfect supporting role by Thomas, in order to win this matchup tonight.
The Warriors backup guards are meep-meep, Brazilian Blur Leandro Barbosa, and Suns killer Shawn Livingston. My guess is that Thomas will guard Barbosa while someone else will be tasked with keeping Livingston in check.
Out on a limb
I am thinking that Isaiah Thomas will have a very good game, as will Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. This will be the best Hydra showing since opening night.
It's going to be a tough game. The Suns are struggling on offense and now have to face the best defense in the NBA. Only their best game of the season will produce a win.
My guess: Warriors over Suns, 107-95.