Who: Golden State Warriors (36-33) vs. Phoenix Suns (48-20)
When: 7:00 p.m. PT
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area (available on fuboTV)
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kent Bazemore, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Suns: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Torrey Craig, Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton
Warriors: Beat the Jazz 119-116 — 4-1 in their last 5 games
Suns: Lost to the Lakers 123-110 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass)
Warriors: 110.5 offense (24th), 110.4 defense (5th), +0.1 net (15th)
Suns: 117.3 offense (7th), 111.2 defense (6th), +6.0 net (3rd)
I mentioned in my preview of the Warriors win over the Jazz that the most likely first-round opponent for the Dubs is Utah. The second-most likely is Phoenix. In fact, if the Warriors make it past the play-in tournament, they are virtually guaranteed to face either the Jazz or the Suns in a seven-game series.
It made Monday’s victory important. Even though it was a close game, it would’ve been a hit to the Warriors confidence if they lost to a Utah team lacking Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr., and then had to face them in the playoffs a week later.
The Suns aren’t missing any key players, but it’s still applicable. The Dubs could be facing off with Phoenix in a seven-game series in a week, and you don’t want to enter that series coming off a big loss that made you feel like you can’t hang with them.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Draymond Green.
Green has been playing his best basketball of the season lately, and it’s no coincidence that the Warriors as a whole are doing the same. After Monday’s game, both Green and Steve Kerr admitted that he finds a different level of energy and motivation in meaningful games, and that’s exactly where the Warriors are.
Against a team with two of the best guards in the league, the Warriors will need a second star to go along with Steph Curry. That’s where Green comes into the picture.
Sun to watch: Deandre Ayton.
Ayton’s scoring has dropped off a little in his third year, but his efficiency has skyrocketed, partially due to development, and partially due to the arrival of Chris Paul. Add in a leap on the defensive end of the court, and Ayton has turned into quite an impressive young player.
Golden State doesn’t have anyone on their roster who can match Ayton’s size, so they’ll have to find other ways to minimize him.
Matchup to watch: Steph Curry vs. Chris Paul.
You can hate Paul all you want, and most Warriors fans do. But you cannot deny that there are very few matchups in basketball that are nearly as fun as when these two future Hall of Famers meet.
Keys to victory
- Have energy from Monday’s encouraging win, rather than lethargy from the back-to-back.
- Disrupt Chris Paul’s rhythm and don’t let him dictate the flow of the game.
- Survive the minutes when Steph Curry and Draymond Green rest.
This would be a nice game to win, Dubs.