When: 7:30 PM AZ Time
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
Who would’ve thought the Phoenix Suns would have a better record than the Golden State Warriors for their first game? What beautiful start to the season! The Suns are 2-2 with impressive wins over the Kings and the Clippers and two one point losses to the Nuggets and Jazz.
The Warriors come into this game hot off their first win of the season, beating the Pelicans 134-123. The team has fallen back to earth with two harsh losses on the books: to the Clippers to open up Chase Center and a 28 point blowout against the Thunder.
The Warriors still have a lot of talent on the team with guys like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell leading the squad. Though the Suns have shown a lot of promise on the defensive side, this game has all the making of an explosive shootout.
Let’s begin the preview.
Golden State Warriors
The start of the season hasn’t been kind to the Warriors with two straight double digit losses to the Clippers and Thunder. The team picked up a win over the Pelicans but New Orleans wasn’t with their first overall pick Zion Williamson.
The team has struggled to find a rhythm and it makes sense given the seismic changes that have occurred in the locker room. No Kevin Durant, no Klay Thompson and the addition of Russell has changed the foundation of this team. Russell, like most of the Warriors roster, is learning to mesh with all these changes. He’s had some ups and downs so far but it’s very early in the season and as the team learns how to work with each other, their play should get a lot better.
Even with those changes, the Warriors still have arguably the best shooter ever in Curry, who’s averaging 24 ppg and nearly seven assists a night. It’s clear Curry is trying to find his groove as the alpha on his own team once again as he struggled with the three ball his first two games (18.2% and 22.2% respectively). He shoot 40% against the Pelicans and was a bit more aggressive in that matchup, an awful sign for Warriors haters everywhere.
Someone else who seemingly woke up was Draymond Green, who hit a triple double against the Pelicans. Green is a vital piece of the team and without Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Thompson, a majority of the defensive play falls on his shoulders. If he can mimic his play against the Pelicans, the Suns will be hard pressed to slow down the Warriors. Aside from those three, the Warriors don’t have the same bench presence as before. If these guys can’t carry the load, it might just be a wrap for the Warriors.
Lets just take a second and recognize the fact that the Suns have not only been competitive, without their first overall pick DeAndre Ayton, but actually winning games. Big wins over the Kings and Clippers and two losses against the Jazz and Nuggets where if a call or two goes a different way, could’ve been wins. It’s exhilarating to see the Suns actually play well.
The team starts and ends with Devin Booker who so far this year has taken a step back scoring, averaging 22.8 in four games. With that said, he’s shown a lot of improvement on the defensive side and has been more attentive there than in recent years. His stats are also weighed down by a tough shooting night against Denver where he shot 28.6% from the field and 12.5% from three for 18 points. He’s still being a playmaker with 6.3 assists per game.
Aron Baynes will most likely start for the Suns as the Ayton situation continues to play itself out. He’s had some success scoring in Ayton’s absence, averaging 13.7 points and six rebounds in the three games Ayton has been out to go along with his tough defensive play.
One player that has been a delight to see is guard Jevon Carter who has been the leader of the second unit, averaging 10 points per game. He’s been a lighting bolt for the team and with his hard nosed mentality and play, he has been a thorn in opponents’ sides.
It’s only been three games for him but Ricky Rubio has already made an impact for the team with his 10 ppg, 9.3 apg and 8 rpg. Rubio’s presence alone adds another playmaker to a team that was desperate for one last year and cuts pressure off Booker’s back. While he won’t match Steph’s scoring ability, he’s vital for the Suns to continue their revitalization.
While Carter is a lighting bolt for the team, Kelly Oubre Jr. is the Suns spirit animal (and probably yours too). He’s second on the team in points per game with 20.5, he’s averaging 6.3 rebounds per game and he’s tied with Rubio for steals with two per game. He’s a lot of fun to watch and the heartbeat of the team.
This will be an offensive shootout with both teams having players that can score at will. I know the Suns are 8th in defensive rating but I have a feeling this is going to one of those crazy Steph games where he pulls 40 out from nowhere.
The Suns have played one road game and lost while the Warriors have lost their one home game so far this season.
The Suns will most likely come into this game with all the energy in the world after a one point loss to Utah that featured shoddy officiating to say the least. The Suns are also deeper than the Warriors and aren’t dealing as much adjusting as the Warriors. They also possess a +12 in points per game differential, Warriors have a -23.5 in the same category.
The Warriors have Steph Curry who can and will light up any team on any given night. I love the ferocity that Green plays with and I like Russell as a second option. It’s tough to pick against those three but the rest of the team looks like a G-league roster.
The Suns are hungry, they have depth and they are looking to right the wrong that occured to them against Utah.
I got Suns winning by 8