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Warriors vs Suns Preview: Is the regular season over yet?

Are the Warriors caught in a slumber and unmotivated by the regular season or is their recent play indicative of what is to come in the postseason?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Game information

Who: Golden State Warriors (57-23) vs. Phoenix Suns (20-60)

When: 6:00 p.m. PST - Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix Suns, Arizona

How to watch: NBCSBA

How to listen: 95.7 The Game

Blog Buddy: Bright Side of the Sun

Injury Report

Warriors: Shaun Livingston (knee, doubtful), Patrick McCaw (back, out), Omri Casspi (ankle, waived :( ), Stephen Curry, (knee, out)

Suns: Josh Jackson (quad,questionable), Marquese Chriss (hip, questionable), Devin Booker (hand, questionable), TJ Warren (knee, questionable), Elfrid Payton (knee, questionable), Tyson Chandler (neck, questionable), Brandon Knight (knee, out for season)

A race to the bottom

The Phoenix Suns are obviously tanking for the third season in a row with the hope of getting another high draft pick in this upcoming draft. They have all but locked up the worst overall record in the NBA, which would give them the best chance to get the first overall pick in the lottery.

The top prize? DeAndre Ayton, a skilled big man from the University of Arizona. Potentially another NBA Unicorn entering the league. He is a physically imposing big man who can work in the paint, hit mid range jumpers, hit three-pointers, and provide rim protection. Just add him to the ever growing number of skilled big men who can do it all on the court.

Whether or not the Suns can be a team that can compete in years to come is yet to be seen but they are doing their best to take all their best players off the floor in efforts to tank to the bottom of the standings.

Schedule this as a win for the Warriors. The Suns have too much to lose by trying to win this game.

Can the playoffs begin already?

The last several weeks have been quite a drag as the Warriors have locked into the second seed and have dealt with a myriad of injuries. Now we are just one week away from the start of the postseason! This game is obviously meaningless as the Suns are only playing to lose and the Warriors just want to rest and keep their guys healthy.

Instead, let’s preview the first round and the potential issues the Warriors might have.

Which first round opponent do the Warriors have the best chance to beat in the first round?

As of the end of play on 4/7/18, the Warriors would currently be slated to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, but that could change several times over the last remaining games as just 1.5 games separate the four through nine seeds.

The best matchup for the Warriors would be the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Denver Nuggets. Both teams are in the bottom 25% in terms of team defensive ranking. The Jazz, Spurs, Thunder all sit in the top 10 in the league in team defense and have proven to give the Warriors issues during the regular season.

Who will be the X-factor in the first round for the Warriors?

While Kevin Durant will be heavily relied on to lead the offense, the Warriors will need Quinn Cook to be the X-factor. He has dazzled in the last few months of the season in Steph Curry’s absence and earned a well deserved spot on the post season roster.

The question is whether the moment will get Cook and if he will falter under pressure. With all the emphasis on the three other all-stars, Cook will have all the opportunity to take advantage of mismatches.

Can the Warriors turn on the “switch” in the playoffs?

There has been a lot of discussion as to whether the Warriors are going to turn on the “switch” in the playoffs where they start to resemble their dominant self. Is it a question of motivation? Has the team peaked and the rest of the league finally been able to match their play?

There are stretches where they look their dominant self and then they start playing lackadaisical. Turnovers and lack of ball movement have been an issue.

Could the Warriors lose in the first round without Curry?

There is no reason why the Warriors shouldn’t get to the second round without Curry just based on talent alone. However, that talent has looked plenty questionable without Curry on the court. The Warriors have managed before without Curry and since have added Durant into the mix.

If the Warriors run into a team like the Spurs or the Jazz in the first round, they could find themselves stretching a series to six or seven games instead of four or five if they were at full strength.