When: 7:00 p.m. AZ time
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA
Watch: TNT, Max
Listen: ESPN 620AM (this is because the Arizona Diamondbacks get 98.7FM for their Game 7 in the NLCS and the Coyotes are on 92.3FM for their sixth regular season game after starting 3-2)
The wait is over. Regular season Suns basketball is finally back, and the NBA is wasting no time in putting this Suns team in front of every NBA fan, serving as the finale for a two-game opening night on TNT.
It’ll be an all-Western Conference opening night on TNT with the Denver Nuggets and LA Lakers preceding them in what will be a 2023 Western Conference Finals rematch. These four teams on display Tuesday night are the four West teams that most expect to see in the second round of this year’s playoffs.
In our game between the Suns and Warriors, we feature two squads that finished the pre-season 4-1 with their new collections of talent. Last season this Warriors team was 33-8 at Chase Center and the Suns were just 17-24 on the road, though this is obviously a very different season.
On paper, this Suns team projects to be one of the league leaders in offensive efficiency and pace over the season, and this is a great matchup to start showing how.
Suns: Booker (toe) and Beal (back) were each held out of the last pre-season game, and are listed as questionable for Tuesday. Per Shams, Beal is unlikely to go; I’d expect Eric Gordon or Grayson Allen to replace him in the starting lineup. Damion Lee (meniscus) remains out.
Update: Booker is IN. Beal is game time.
Warriors: Draymond Green (ankle) is out. Head coach Steve Kerr called it one of the “bumps in the road” that happen over the course of a season.
Uniform Matchup (via NBA Lockervision):
What to Watch For:
We haven’t even mentioned the elephants in the room yet; there are several personal ties between the two teams:
- Kevin Durant — played three seasons in Golden State, winning two titles and two Finals MVPs; this is Durant’s first time back playing @ Golden State with fans (one 2021 matchup without fans, COVID) and the Warriors say they will play a tribute video as he’s announced pre-game.
- Eric Gordon — played for the Bahamas in FIBA play over the summer where he was coached by Warriors assistant Chris DeMarco
- Damion Lee — won’t play as he rehabs from a meniscus injury, but he spent four seasons in Golden State before arriving in Phoenix last year.
- Chris Paul — spent three seasons in Phoenix before being traded for Bradley Beal and re-routed to Golden State this summer
- Dario Saric — spent over three-and-a-half seasons in Phoenix before being traded last deadline
All parties involved have insisted there’s no bad blood, but we all know how tempers can rise with familiar faces, especially when both teams should be near the top of the league this season.
Keys to a Suns Win
It’s easy to point to the stars, the overall offense, and the pace as the building blocks for any Suns win this season — and you’d honestly be right to — but I’m thinking of the likely fifth starter and his versatility in defending what could be some wacky Warriors lineup combos.
Josh Okogie is something of a warrior himself, and one that Suns coach Frank Vogel says can guard four positions:
Frank Vogel said he believes Josh Okogie has the ability to guard PG-PF at an “elite level” and it separates him from other NBA players.— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) October 23, 2023
Here’s what Vogel said when I asked about Okogie and how Devin Booker and Bradley Beal will be tasked on defense. #Suns #ComingInHot pic.twitter.com/HpyjUSxLFk
In a matchup like this — against a guard-heavy and perimeter-heavy lineup like the Warriors have — Okogie could find himself switching assignments from possession to possession just guarding whichever Warriors guard is hottest at that moment.
Nearly as important as his defense is Okogie’s shooting ability, which will be one of a few key components surrounding the starters that I’ll be tracking closely over the season. In the pre-season, he shot 3-8 3P (37.5%) which is more than serviceable from an efficiency standpoint, and 2.0 3PA in 20.0 minutes isn’t half-bad either.
Who knows? Anything can happen. I’ll go with the optimistic viewpoint and say the Suns win 127-114. I’d imagine we end up seeing what we’ll see a lot of this year: a high-octane offense bordering on historic levels of efficiency with an above-average defense to boot.