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BIG GAME Preview: It’s Chriss/Bender on LEAP DAY in Suns vs. Warriors

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The return of Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss is on tap for Suns-Warriors tonight.

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (24-36) host Golden State Warriors (12-47)

When: 7:00 PM AZ time

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix

Tickets: Get tickets here through Stubhub

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


In the year 2020, less than 10 months since the Warriors finished their fifth straight appearance in the NBA Finals, we finally get to see what we have all been waiting for: Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender starting for a World Champ.

Unfortunately, we originally thought that would be here in Phoenix. But alas, It’s in Golden State.

And only in a year that Golden State is in a “gap year” and has the worst record in the Western Conference by a mile.

Warriors

Offense: 30th (103.4), Defense: 25th (112.8), Overall Net Rating: 30th (-9.4 points per game)

These guys are even more depleted than the last time we saw them in Phoenix, and now they have picked up Dragan Bender and convinced themselves he can play good basketball.

Chriss and Bender both started the other night in a big loss to the Lakers. No need to point out the box score.

What’s the chances they play well here in Phoenix tonight together, just like Chriss posted a season-best 18 and 12 in the loss a couple weeks ago.

A night after Brandon Knight drained 19 points on this floor — his most since being a Phoenix Suns guard several years ago — we get to see Bender and Chriss try to show the Suns what they are missing.

Since that explosion vs. the Suns, Chriss has posted 10/5, 20/10 and 4/7. Since becoming a regular starter for the Warriors 12 games ago, Chriss is posting 13.7 points (62.3% FG), 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 blocks. So that’s pretty good.

Since joining the Warriors, Dragan Bender has posted 6/5, 0/5 and 4/4 box scores.

As I always say, I would be happy if these guys develop real careers. Both are still just 22 years old.

Just don’t beat the Suns okay?

Since joining the Warriors at the deadline to replace DLo, Mr. Max Contract and former Devin Booker “comp” is posting 19.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

Suns

Offense: 16th (109.9), Defense: 17th (110.6), Overall Net Rating: 15th (-0.8 points per game)

The Suns are simply terrible at home. Just 11-20 now on the season, and 5-15 against the Western Conference. In contrast, the Suns are 13-16 on the road.

And, they are possibly going to play the game tonight without Cameron Johnson (sore back) and Deandre Ayton (sore hip), who are both listed as questionable. Of course, Kelly Oubre Jr. is out too.

Let’s hope the Suns muster the energy to beat a truly bad team. Come on guys!

At least Ricky Rubio found his bounce again. Rubio has 15+ points and 10+ assists in four straight, the longest such streak of his career and longest by a Sun since Steve Nash in five straight in 2010-11. Since the All-Star break, Rubio ranks 1st in the NBA with 10.8 assists per game and 1st with 3.6 steals per game.

Mikal Bridges is really settling into the starting lineup: He is averaging 10.5 points (52.2 FG%, 42.4 3P%), 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 3P in 19 starts this season.

Deandre Ayton is having a great year, but has not yet played the Warriors this season, either due to injury or suspension. If he plays, he will definitely be the best big man on the floor by a mile.

Still want to get out to the game? There’s tickets available through Stubhub: get tickets here

Why is this a big game?

Well, the Suns are somehow still just 4.5 games out of the 8th spot, so anything can happen really. Let’s get down to the arena to support the team and push them to victory in the face of adversity

Get tickets now


What’s your prediction?

I think it’s a clean Suns win for a much-needed win: 120-100