Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors host the Phoenix Suns tonight in the first game at Oracle Arena since the NBA All-Star break. Our beloved Warriors are looking to break a six-game losing streak. And we should expect them to end that streak.
7:30 p.m. PST
Oracle Arena - Oakland, CA
TV: CSN Bay | Radio: KNBR 680
Buddy Blog: Bright Side of the Sun
Ok, this time I'm not playing: the Warriors cannot lose tonight.
Not at home.
Not for the seventh time in a row.
Not against the Phoenix Suns.
That just can't happen.
The Suns are not only a team that we can beat in some abstract sense, but also a team that we have established that we should beat in two previous meetings. The Suns are currently sitting in the Western Conference cellar. They've lost four of their last five and are also on the back end of a back-to-back.
Maybe we could excuse the Warriors' six consecutive losses in the last six outings - playing five of six on the road with the only reprieve being a home game against the Houston Rockets is hardly a cake walk. But there's no reason the losing streak should continue tonight.
I would even say that maybe, just maybe, a loss would be ok if we saw better effort or at least less of the individual play on offense and ineffectual interior defense that we saw last night. But if we just get a solid - not even outstanding - performance on both ends, this should result in a W.
Four Factors statistics for the Phoenix Suns.
Of course, I understand the Suns have not been an easy matchup for the Warriors this season, even with center Andrew Bogut available: I was at the February 2 win against the Suns and it was looking bleak at halftime after the Warriors struggled a bit with fouls and turnovers. But the second half of that game probably offered the blueprint for the Warriors beating this team: keep the ball moving (they had 21 assists on 24 made field goals), don't turn the ball over, and don't give up offensive rebounds that will give a typically poor shooting Suns team second chance points.
And that was basically the opposite of what the Warriors did last night, never mind the five previous losses.
Rewatch that second half from February 2 and you'll see the difference between what was going on less that three weeks ago and what happened last night: ball movement, movement without the ball, and a defensive effort that held the Suns to just 36.6% shooting.
This Warriors team should be able to do that again against this team. Given the recent turn of events, it's probably too much to expect the Warriors to see a game against a last place team as a "confidence builder" but this is a situation where they should be able to get back to their style of ball.
And there needs to be some sense of urgency about that now. There needs to be some sign that this team is ready to not just show up in the playoffs and get swept, but actually show they deserve to compete with the elite.
If the Warriors want to consider themselves a playoff team, this is one of those games playoff teams are "supposed to beat". If they want to be taken seriously, they have to take care of business at home. That's really all there is to it.