What: Phoenix Suns (1-1) at Golden St. Warriors (2-1)
When: Monday, October 22nd @ 7:30 PM AZ
Where: ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
Watch: FOX Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
Both the Suns and Warriors are looking to shake off losses against the Denver Nuggets.
The same Nuggets who just pounded the Suns 119-91 on Saturday night also beat the Warriors 100-98 on Sunday.
While the Suns are catching Golden St. on the second night of an away-home two game set, in the last four seasons the Warriors have only lost back-to-back regular season games 10 times. Combine that with the Warriors current 15 game win streak against the Suns and it doesn’t bode well for the guys in purple and orange.
Kevin Durant (28.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 6.7 apg) and Stephen Curry (31.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 7.7 apg) have been doing the heavy lifting for Golden State through three games while others have struggled out of the gate.
Klay Thompson is just 2-16 from three-point range and the No. 1 three point shooting team in the league last season (.391) is a paltry .324 at this early juncture. Unfortunately for the Suns, those kinds of short term results usually balance out over time, so don’t be surprised for the Warriors to get back on track tonight.
Phoenix provided the case in point for skepticism in small sample sizes, as they followed up a very solid first game with a quite squishy second performance.
Trevor Ariza and Josh Jackson, most notably, came down to earth after strong opening nights. Ariza followed a 21 point, eight rebound, seven assist effort against the Dallas Mavericks with just five points on 2-7 shooting with three turnovers and a jaw-dropping plus-minus of -47 against the Denver Nuggets.
Jackson was also strong in the opener, but went straight dueces with a fairly forgettable two points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two turnovers against the Nuggets.
Deandre Ayton also got his official “welcome to the league, rookie” game against Denver as Nikola Jokic and the referees pounded the Suns young center. Ayton struggled with foul trouble while Jokic recorded an other-worldly 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and four steals on 11-11 from the field with zero turnovers. In terms of stats, it was the best game of Jokic’s career.
Hopefully Ayton can get back on track and post another solid line (18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists) like he did against DeAndre Jordan. The Warriors have been starting Damian Jones, so as long as Ayton can stay out of foul trouble it would seem like a favorable matchup.
After going 19-34 on 3s in their opener, the Suns were just 11-39 from deep in their loss to the Nuggets. Even with a number of new faces this season, it seems reasonable to question whether shooting that many three-pointers will be a recipe for success. Last season, the Suns ranked dead last in three-point accuracy at 33.4%, but are currently tied for sixth in attempts per game.
T.J. Warren was the most consistent player through two games, showing off a hopefully improved perimeter stroke. With Mikal Bridges also playing well in limited minutes against Denve, the depth chart for the wings this season may be an ongoing story line.
Check out Evan Sidery’s piece advocating for more rotation minutes for Bridges.
Fighting for and earning minutes hasn’t been much of an issue these past few seasons, so that could be a welcome change.
The Suns will likely need another strong outing from Devin Booker (30.0 ppg, 7.0 apg) to stand any chance to pull this one out. The Suns are leaning on several young players this year, and most of their wins will likely be when Booker and at least one other of the under-25 crowd have solid games. The Suns still probably have the talent nor experience to win a lot of games when they don’t play well, especially against teams like the Warriors.