Basketball

Warriors vs Suns: Round 2

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The top of the Western Conference clashes once again – just days after Phoenix extended its then 16-game winning streak and handed Golden State just their 3rd loss of the season. In a 104-96 win in Phoenix, the Suns played a majority of the game without Devin Booker as he went down with a hamstring injury and never returned. And with Booker still out the Warriors are pretty heavy favorites coming into their 2nd matchup of the season.

Bounce-back Game

Stephen Curry is coming off the worst shooting night of his career and I’d be pretty surprised if he has another letdown game. The Suns had a game plan for Curry and they executed it well but Curry forced some shots early and it got him out of his groove that he just couldn’t find his way back into. Credit to Mikal Bridges and the rest of the Suns for slowing him down, but great ones like Curry figure these types of things out and that’s what I’m expecting Curry to do tonight.

Not only did Curry struggle the other night, but Andrew Wiggins – who was playing through back spasms – was clearly not himself. Back spasms can linger but it was encouraging to see Wiggins be a participant in the Warriors’ practice yesterday as a healthy Wiggins will make a HUGE difference for the Warriors. Not only does a healthy Wiggins change things, but getting Damion Lee back into the rotation after a two-game absence will help provide some depth to matchup with the depth of Phoenix, although Lee has been struggling a bit on the offensive end lately.

A couple of the Warriors’ main core struggled the other night in Phoenix but two guys who stepped up were Jordan Poole and Otto Porter Jr.

Poole had arguably his best game of the season in a time when the Warriors desperately needed him, dropping 28 points on just 15 shots as he buried 6 long balls and chipped in 2 steals, 3 assists, and 5 rebounds. He may not have quite as good of a game the second time around but it’s clear he can rise to the occasion when needed.

Porter Jr. led the Warriors bench unit with 16 points and 4 triples of his own. Porter Jr. really seems to be getting into a groove lately and while an exceptional team like the Suns are most certainly going to have a plan to slow him down off the bench, it’s a little tough to really game plan for a player off the bench that doesn’t really have the ball in his hands a ton; the Warriors forward is more of an opportunistic scorer that quite honestly fits perfectly in the Warriors system and if he doesn’t provide a spark off the bench somebody else on the Warriors’ bench more than likely will.

Warriors Take Back 1st Place

The Suns at 19-4, are a half-game ahead of the Warriors who are currently sitting at 18-3 and a Warriors win would give them a half-game lead on the Suns for the top spot in the west. The Warriors are 7 point favorites on most books and while that may seem like a bit of a large spread, I think Vegas has this right.

The Warriors have beat good teams like the Nets, Bulls, and Clippers, but many “experts” have knocked the Warriors for their easy schedule early in the season and a win tonight would help cancel out all that noise.

The size of DeAndre Ayton, who made 11 of his 19 field goals on Tuesday night and grabbed 11 rebounds, is still going to be a problem for the Warriors as they don’t really have anyone on the active roster that can matchup with Ayton size-wise, I think we’ll see the Warriors really focus on controlling the pace of the game tonight to try and minimize Ayton’s impact.

It’s too bad we don’t get to see the top two teams in the Western Conference go at it at full strength, but I think we’ll get another dandy of a game tonight with the Warriors covering the spread with a late push in the 4th quarter.

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