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Game preview: Suns battle league best Warriors in Oakland

At 61-13, the Golden State Warriors stand 23 1/2 games above the 10th place Phoenix Suns in the West, and 5 1/2 games above the Atlanta Hawks for best record in the league. They've won 10 straight, and are 34-2 at home so far this season. What could possibly happen tonight?

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

  • Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors
  • Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
  • 7:30PM AZ Time
  • Television: TNT
  • Radio: AZ Sports 98.7FM

Although the Warriors have already clinched the best record in the Western Conference, they continue winning as if the games matter to their position. On Tuesday night, they took down the Clippers 110-106 in a game much more important to the Clippers than to Golden State.

The Suns, on the other hand, appear to have entered full "gone fishing" mode. Their 109-86 demolition at the hands of the Blazers Monday came on the heels of a 109-97 loss to the Thunder which essentially pounded the final nail in the coffin of any Suns playoff chances.

In their last six quarters of play, the Suns have been outscored 164-121.

Believe it or not, the thoroughly average Suns actually beat the elite Warriors this season, 107-95 on November 9th, the season's seventh game. Does anybody carry fond memories of Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic and Gerald Green combining for 60 points that night, before Dragic and Thomas were later traded, and Green's performance fell off a cliff? No?

The next two games between the teams more accurately represented the merits of each roster, with the Warriors winning 106-87 and 98-80, and the Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson All-Star backcourt combining for 47, then 61 points.

Don't be fooled by the Warriors giving up only the 14th lowest PPG in the league. They're an excellent defensive team, rated #1 in the league in D-Rating, which measures points per possession. They give up more points because they play with the fastest pace in the league, allowing more opponents' possessions.

Their O-Rating is #2, but here's the key stat: The average point differential in a Warriors game so far this season is 109.8-99.0. Winning a game by 11 points is just an average night for them. The split is even wider at home, where the Warriors average score is 113.0-97.3.

Brandon Knight returned in the Thunder game, but aggravated his ankle injury, so is questionable to go tonight. Alex Len broke his nose against the Blazers, and Paul Coro reports he'll be out for a week. Maybe Marcus Thornton will return from his injury tonight to thrill all those Suns fans who have been clamoring for more minutes from him.

Draymond Green has missed the last two games for the Warriors with "shin inflammation." Head coach Steve Kerr said Green could go if the game were meaningful. This one is not, so Green will likely miss tonight's game as well, opening the door for David Lee to start again.

Probable starting lineups:

  • PG Eric Bledsoe vs. Stephen Curry
  • SG P.J. Tucker vs. Klay Thompson
  • SF Marcus Morris vs. Harrison Barnes
  • PF Markieff Morris vs. David Lee
  • C Earl Barron vs. Andrew Bogut
There's really no point in the Suns pushing Knight into service with his injury tonight, and Len will be out with his broken nose, so we could see plenty of Barron and newcomer Jerel McNeal, if you're into that sort of thing.

Instead, let's focus on youngsters T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin. Here's hoping they continue to give us a glimmer of hope for the future with their play.

No way to sugarcoat it, and no reason to: This game will likely be a nasty blowout loss for the Suns. Since the average Warriors home game is a 16 point win for them, and the Suns are in a complete tailspin, I'll call it an accomplishment if the Suns can keep the final margin below 20.

All quoted stats courtesy of

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