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Game Preview: Gauntlet ends with Suns facing league's best, Golden State Warriors

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns vs. Golden State Warriors

When: 7:00pm AZ time

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix AZ

TV: FoxSports Arizona

Radio: 98.7 FM ArizonaSports

The Golden State Warriors visit Phoenix on the second night of a back-to-back after downing the Houston Rockets on Tuesday. The league's best player, Stephen Curry, gets to toy with Archie Goodwin while one of it's best shooting guards, Klay Thompson, gets to look at his shadow in counterpart Devin Booker.

This should be a fun game to watch as long as you divest yourself from the need to see a Suns win in order to enjoy the game. It's fun to watch the Warriors. Grab your popcorn and watch some of the best basketball ever to be played.

Warriors

Oh man. The Suns run of playing really good teams hits its apex tonight with the Warriors coming to town. The Warriors boast the league's top ranked offense and 4th ranked defense.

Steve Kerr has recently returned to the sidelines as coach after missing most of the first half with a back injury. Kerr's interim, Luke Walton, is rumored to be a top target by the Suns this summer to take over the permanent head coaching job after Earl Watson finishes the rest of the season.

The Warriors continue to epitomize the model that Kerr wanted to mold in Phoenix when he took over the GM job in 2007. The league's best team had the league's best offense, but their defense was mid-pack which always hurt the playoff runs. Kerr wanted to hire Thom Thibodeau or another defensive guru to join Mike D'Antoni's staff, but D resisted the D and eventually walked off in a huff a year later.

Now Kerr brings nearly a dozen former Suns with him to Phoenix today, including meep-meep Leandro Barbosa who is still going strong. Other former Suns dot the Warriors coaching staff, training staff, and front office. Sigh.

Oh yeah, there's this Stephen Curry dude you might want to watch tonight too. He's only the best NBA guard since Steve Nash.

Suns

Devin Booker has such a smooth shooting stroke that he evokes images of other great NBA shooters. Guys like Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick are high enough ceilings, and a bit easier to reach than that of Klay Thompson.

But that's exactly who former coach Jeff Hornacek used as a comparison after the draft.

"I think he (Klay Thompson) is probably the closest comparison when you look at styles," Hornacek said. "He shoots the ball. Klay has the size where if he takes that one hard dribble, if you're running the guy off the shot and you're chasing him on a screen, Klay got very good at taking one dribble and then quick pull and shooting a 15-foot shot. If you're a shooter and get an open 15-footer, then you're probably going to make it. He (Booker) has got that ability. He's not 6-3 or 6-4 where he might have trouble with a taller guy. He's 6-6. He's got that ability. Same with Klay. He's going to learn. Klay maybe wasn't the greatest defender but he worked at it. He's going to have to work at defense. I truly believe that if you know the game and you understand the game offensively, you should be able to understand it pretty well defensively."

Booker will get to see a lot of Klay Thompson over the next few days. First, he goes right up against Klay tonight as the Warriors visit Phoenix. Then, the two of them along with Steph Curry and Draymond Green will compete in the Three-Point Shooting contest this weekend in Toronto.

Watch the two of them tonight and you'll see that Thompson is clearly the better player right now. Sure, some day Booker could be better or an equal, but right now Klay is better. Where Klay stands out is on defense. He's made himself into a very good defensive player on one of the league's best defensive teams.

This right here might be what Booker feels like as the Warriors run all over his team.

Other Suns to watch are Markieff Morris, P.J. Tucker and Archie Goodwin. Given how well they've played in front of league scouts (9-10 per night the last two games) and the Suns need to make roster changes focused on the future, these three are in the spotlight for possibly their last Suns games.

Tucker should be in demand for playoff-bound teams needing a three-and-D small forward/power forward combo. Morris is still on the trading block despite his resurgence, and Archie Goodwin looks to be squeezed out of the guard rotation long-term even if the Suns trade one of Brandon Knight or Eric Bledsoe this summer, with Devin Booker, Bogdan Bogdanovic and better-passing point guard backup better fits long term.

All could bring more value to the Suns in the next week than previously expected, given how well they've played. Morris in particular has played well, putting up 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists per game over the last 4 games. Goodwin is averaging 18 points and 7 assists in those same four Feb games.

But these are still the Suns, and the soon-to-be 14-40 Suns should not be distracted by the shiny buff job on Morris, Goodwin and Tucker lately. They all should be dangled for future-oriented value.

Prediction

What can you expect?

The best we can hope for is a competitive quarter or three by the spunky Suns, but an ultimate easy win for the Warriors before it's over.

Still, you HAVE to tune in. Steph, Dray and Klay will be fun to watch, and I can't wait to see how Devin Booker matches up to Klay now that they are both getting equal playing time.