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Preview: Suns travel to Golden State, look to tame Steph Curry

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It’s the Suns versus the league’s top scorer tonight!

Golden State Warriors v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What: Golden State Warriors (36-33) vs. Phoenix Suns (48-20)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Chase Center

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


We are down to the last week in the regular season and it has sped by us faster than a DeLorean going 88 MPH. Great Scott. The Suns are going back...to the playoffs. The angst and anxiety that those minutes will bring must be put on hold right now as numerous playoff scenarios still exist and need to play out. Will this week end with Marty McFly coming home to his normal suburban Hill Valley residence? Or will it be the worst case scenario version, with Biff Tannen running the world and a Suns matchup versus the Lakers looming?

Game 69 of the season places the Phoenix Suns in San Francisco where the Golden State Warriors await. Turn on, tune in, and zone out baby.

Probable Starting Lineups

Phoenix

Chris Paul - Devin Booker - Mikal Bridges - Jae Crowder - Deandre Ayton

Golden State

Stephen Curry - Kent Bazemore - Andrew Wiggins - Draymond Green - Kevon Looney

Uniform Tracker

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Cameron Johnson (OUT, wrist)
  • Abdel Nader (OUT, knee)

Golden State:

  • Klay Thompson (OUT, Achilles)
  • James Wiseman (OUT, knee)
  • Kelly Oubre, Jr. (OUT, wrist)
  • Eric Paschall (OUT, hip)
  • Damion Lee (OUT, health and safety protocols)

Warriors Update

  • Points-per-Game/Offensive Rating: 113.4 (13th)/110.7 (23rd)
  • Opponents Points-per-Game/Defensive Rating: 112.6 (19th)/109.9 (5th)
  • Net Rating: +0.8 (14th)

Thank you, Golden State, for defeating the Utah Jazz (119-116) last night and keeping the Suns’ hopes alive relative to the number one seed. The Warriors have plenty to play for, albeit without numerous key players, as they are attempting to remain in the #7 vs. #8 play in game next week. They currently reside 0.5 games ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies for the right to do so.

They are led by Steph Curry, who has been on an absolute tear as of late. You can credit his late game heroics for the victory over the Jazz last night as he sunk another clutch three-pointer to put the Warriors ahead late.

Curry is must see TV. He currently leads the lead in scoring with 31.9 points as he is averaging a career-high 21.4 shot attempts per game. He shoots 42.6% from beyond the arc. He has 27 30+ point games this season, 7 40+ points games, and 3 50+ point games. Curry is a flamer thrower just ready to go off and it is a joy to watch.

The pieces around him have been sub-par for the majority of the season. The fact that they are competing for the #8 seed is a testament to the greatness of Steph Curry. Draymond Green is scoring 6.9 points and 7.0 rebounds in 31.3 minutes this season. Andrew Wiggins is good for 18.3 points and 4.8 boards but is one their weaker defenders.

The Warriors have lost twice to the Suns this season, the first being a 21-point loss and the second being a 22-pointer. Of course, Steph wasn’t on his heater back then. His averaging 36.0 points in his 26 games since their last loss to Phoenix.

Suns Update

  • Points-per-Game/Offensive Rating: 114.8 (9th)/116.8 (7th)
  • Opponents Points-per-Game/Defensive Rating: 109.1 (7th)/111.0 (7th)
  • Net Rating: +5.8 (3rd)

We’re hunting for the #1 seed. The Suns are 1.5 games behind the Jazz following their loss to Golden State last night. The door is still open and winning is the only thing that will put them in the situation to gain that top seed. It’s very Orlando Bubble-esque, is it not? Just keep winning and hope you have a shot at what you desire.

And I desire to miss the Lakers in the first round (and perhaps all together).

There was plenty left to be desired following the loss at the hands of the Lakers on Sunday night. We were reminded that Anthony Davis is a top 3 player in the league, that the Suns interior is inferior to that of Los Angeles, and that they are one team that will give us fits in the postseason. But that was Sunday. Tonight is a new opportunity to get right.

The end of the season is in sight and Phoenix is limping — compared to their prolonged stretch of winning basketball — to the finish line. They are 2-2 in their last 4, and 6-4 in their last 10. The competition has been tougher. The fatigue is setting in. This is where you grind it out and find who you are.

Thankfully they have Chris Paul leading them.

Playoff Implications

Ah, the implication. Dennis Reynolds knows all about that. There are plenty of playoff scenarios and different avenues of thought on how to approach this game. Here is where we stand currently:

For the Warriors, it is clear that they need to win. If they loose, they put themselves at risk of falling into the #9 vs. #10 play in game, which means it would take two victories to secure the #8 seed in the playoffs.

As fate would have it, Golden State plays Memphis is the final game of the season. If they were to end with a tie in the standings, Sunday’s game would be the tiebreaker as they both are currently 1-1 versus each other this season. The winner will face either the Lakers or the Trail Blazers (as the #7 seed has yet to be determined).

For the Suns, we want the number one seed. A win tonight will place Phoenix back to within one game of making that happen. It’s a tricky path, but here is what we are looking at:

Suns last four:

  • tonight @ Golden State
  • Thursday vs. Portland
  • Saturday @ San Antonio
  • Sunday @ San Antonio

Jazz last three:

  • Wednesday vs. Portland
  • Friday @ OKC
  • Sunday @ Sacramento

There are three trains of thought going in to the final week of the season:

Just Win, Baby

You can only control what you can control.

Focus on playing well and winning your games. Doing so will keep the Suns locked in and fluid. Don’t risk sitting players and disrupting their rhythms.

And who knows, maybe you’ll end in first?

Avoid the Lakers: Beat Portland

This plays into the train of thought above, although you’d be routing for the Jazz to win tomorrow in this scenario, almost certainly negating any chance have taking the top seed in the Western Conference.

If Los Angeles wins tonight over the Knicks, they will be within one game of Portland. If the Jazz to defeat Portland tomorrow, that will put them in a tie in the standings with the Lakers (Portland holds the tie breaker as they went 2-1 vs. LA this season).

The Suns play Portland on Thursday. That is a helluva back-to-back for the Blazers. If the Jazz can defeat them and the Suns can as well, the Lakers will gain the #6 seed. Phoenix would not have to face them in the first round.

Rest Up

The Suns could rest their players, whether it be via sitting them for games or limiting their minutes. We’ve made it this far avoiding and major SNAFU’s, so this strategy would ensure a healthy squad entering the postseason.

Keys to a Suns Win

Limit Steph Curry? This is no easy task as his will to win and his joy doing so can be hard to overcome. You won’t be able to stop him. So let him go for 40 and shut everyone else down.

Phoenix is a team by every definition of the word. Their ability to match Curry will be paramount when he is on the court, but it will come down to the bench's in this one. Phoenix is 14th in the NBA with 36.6 points from their bench nightly. The Warriors are right behind them at 15 with 36.4.

The Phoenix bench will outscore the Golden State bench 45-37, which will be the difference in the game.

Suns 121, Warriors 113