When: 7 p.m. MST
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
While the Suns have been pushing harder than expected to eek out wins the past few weeks — playing guys heavy minutes and crafting new gameplans — they are equally focused on simply getting healthy. Head coach Monty Williams said Wednesday morning at shootaround that he does not expect Deandre Ayton (questionable with an ankle sprain) to play against Golden State, and the team’s other three bigs have not been re-evaluated since the team’s last official announcement on Jan. 25.
Devin Booker emphasized that late February and March are when playoff teams start to separate in the standings, and that he expects the Suns to be one of the teams to make a run. Finishing out the first portion of the season with a win would go a long way toward any remaining playoff hopes as well as help the mood of the team going into the All-Star break.
No. 13 in the Western Conference
110.1 ORtg (17th) - 111.8 DRtg (19th) = minus-1.7 netRtg (20th)
Projected starters: Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mikal Bridges, Cheick Diallo
Before the Suns use the All-Star break to get healthy, they have one last winnable game at home, and they hope to take care of business.
“We want to close it out in a strong way going into the break,” Williams said. “Our team has competed so hard, we’ve dealt with so much, and we want to feel better about ourselves going into the break.”
That’s in line with the desperation the Suns have shown trying to win every single game of late, even if the result hasn’t always matched their eagerness. Booker has played 38 or more minutes in nine of 21 games since New Year’s Day. The rest of the starting lineup is in a similar spot — heck, even Diallo played 39 minutes as the only true big on the roster on Monday night in Los Angeles.
“You call it a trap game in the NBA,” Booker said, “but I think our shootaround was good today, and I think after our last game, we came in and had the same mentality that we want to get one before we head off to the break, so today’s our day.”
With a victory against the Warriors, the Suns would exceed their 2017-18 win total and make their way one step closer to the best record of Devin Booker’s career.
Golden State Warriors
No. 15 in the Western Conference
104.5 ORtg (30th) - 113.7 DRtg (25th) = minus-9.1 netRtg (29th)
Projected starters: Ky Bowman, Damion Lee, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Marquese Chriss
Somehow, these late-season Warriors and Suns tilts always seem to feature the most random assortment of players. Most years, it’s because Golden State was in full rest mode by February, but now, they simply have no one else.
That includes Chriss, who just signed a two-year contract with the Warriors after a weird year that saw him in limbo as the team solved its financial concerns. They are only just beginning to replenish the young talent they lost as they went all-in on the Hamptons Five era.
That also, of course, includes Wiggins. Golden State’s bounty for D’Angelo Russell is off to an interesting start for the Warriors.
“A huge part of this trade is we know Andrew is a better positional fit for us than D’Angelo was, considering Steph and Klay will be back. First, just the pace, the speed he possesses at the 3-spot. We always liked to play fast here; we like to throw the ball ahead. The first thing we’re going to ask of him is to run the wing and run the wing hard. We have guys who will throw the ball up ahead to him. I think that’ll be something he’ll enjoy.
“Then, defensively, we’ll ask him to take on the challenge of what that entails — guarding some of the best players in the league, adapting to our schemes and terminology. I think it’s important that we have a couple months’ head start into next season.
“To be able to get a valuable wing player is not easy. There’s very few of them in the draft according to scouts and very few of them available in free agency. Wings are hard to come by. Just by bringing in a positional fit, a guy who has a lot of talent, I think the move makes sense.”
This is one the Suns should definitely win. Not only to — as everyone agrees — head into the break on the right foot, but also to continue the strong stretch of play at home that dates back to a blowout over Houston last Friday.
Golden State is also a great team to face if you’re not going to have Ayton. They play Chriss and Kevon Looney at center, meaning the Suns don’t have to worry about getting burned too badly inside.
Suns 125, Warriors 110