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Suns vs. Warriors Preview

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns finished 6-2 on their homestand, but the real road to the playoffs starts tonight against the Golden State Warriors. 25 of the last 34 games on the Suns schedule will be against teams fighting for playoff position. It doesn't get much more difficult than the top dog in the West.

The Warriors

To put it simply, the Warriors are the last team anyone wants to play out West. They are 31-8, 21-2 at home, and are riding a recent hot streak of Klay Thompson.

Besides his record setting 37 points in the 3rd quarter against the Kings, Thompson has scored at least 27 points in 4 of his last 5 games. He's shooting 51% from three in January. It doesn't seem fair that he's alongside Stephen Curry.

If there was any good news about playing the Warriors recently it was Andrew Bogut missing time with injury, but he was back against the Jazz last night.

David Lee is also back, but his impact on the game fluctuates on the opponent. He had 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists against the Bulls in 30 minutes, but can also play only 16 minutes against the Celtics. With Markieff Morris at power forward for the Suns, expect to see a lot of Draymond Green tonight.

The Suns bench advantage against most teams will not be the case tonight with the likes of Lee, Marreese Speights, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingson, and Summer League survivor Justin Holiday coming off of the bench.

The only good news in this matchup is that the Warriors are also on a back-to-back, as they flew back to California after a 110-100 loss to the Jazz last night.

Despite the Warriors trailing all game, head coach Steve Kerr only played two players over thirty minutes and it was only 31 and 34 minutes for Curry and Thompson respectively. That and coming off of a loss in front of their home crowd makes you think that there won't be much of an impact from there.

The Suns

It's safe to say by now that we know what we get out of this Suns team. They have stretches of great play, but can't maintain the focus of holding a big lead or trying to steal a game when they were the inferior team that night.

The Suns are 3-6 in the second game of a back-to-back and those three wins were against the Pacers, Wizards, and Timberwolves.

I went over the success of the Suns in January in this film study, but someone I didn't get to go over is Eric Bledsoe. He's clearly been this team's best player this season with his consistency for an extremely inconsistent team. His 17/6/5 line has held month-to-month and he has been particularly good in the past five games (21/7/6).

Goran Dragic has slowed down a bit after it looked like he was back in December (20 PPG), but Isaiah Thomas has helped pick some of that up with his great month (16/3/2 47%/46%/88%).

Gerald Green is a player this team always needs against a superior opponent and he certainly needs the turnaround. Besides his bizarre DNP last night, there's more of an overall theme this season to Green's lack of an impact and playing time.

Green has only played 19.3 MPG this month and he's only shooting 42% from the field this season, a team low. Those aren't Nick Young numbers, but they still aren't good. The Suns need him and things start to get tricky if this pace keeps up in Green's contract year.

Three Keys

Defensive Focus

Everyone knows the passing ability of all the perimeter players for the Warriors. However, with bigs like Lee, Bogut, and Green, the Suns need to stay focused at all times defensively or they will get carved up.

Hit your open shots

Whenever you are the underdog you need to take advantage of all your chances and the Suns need to hit their open shots. Everyone on the perimeter in the rotation can hit their open threes and they need to if the Suns want to win tonight.

Be ready for the runs and the crowd

Oracle Arena has a reputation for a reason. They get loud, and that combined with the Warriors ability to go on scoring runs out of nowhere is dangerous. The Suns are such a young team, but they can't lose their composure if they are in the game and then the Warriors suddenly change that.

Prediction

The Warriors are an all-around brutal matchup for the Suns. The Warriors firepower and balance along with the way they move the ball as a team is the perfect way to beat the Suns.

This is a game that the Suns need the best out of Alex Len and their bench, especially if Bogut is playing. Unfortunately, there's no real way to pick the Suns in this situation given their inconsistences.

Warriors 114, Suns 96