The suns are on fire. The warriors won’t stop winning. The two best teams in the NBA will put their winning streak on the line in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Both teams had an exceptional start to the season. The Suns have won their last 16 games after starting the season with a 1-3 record. Golden State has only lost two games for a total of just 7 points.
In the first quarter of the NBA season, the Suns and Warriors dominated the table. Golden State leads 18-2, just one game ahead of Phoenix 17-3. While the two are in the top 10 according to their RPI ranking for schedule strength, they have demonstrated one of the most important qualities a team can have: consistency. The two teams beat losing opponents and fought for victory.
Let’s start with Golden State. There is no doubt that Stephen Curry is the main driver behind the Warriors’ success this season. Predictably, Curry automatically shot past the 3-point line, shooting 42.3% of three. Curry averages 28.6 points per game, ranking second behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant. Curry is so far the undisputed MVP of the league.
The impending return of another deadly rifleman should worry the League about how high the Warriors cap could be. Klay Thompson has suffered multiple end-of-season injuries over the past two years, ripping his left ACL in the 2019 NBA final and right Achilles in court in November 2020.
Thompson was recently assigned to the Warriors’ G-League subsidiary in Santa Cruz, California, where he will continue to be in shape for his return to the NBA. Given the Warriors are already exceeding expectations, the Thompsons reintroduction could be a nightmare for the rest of the NBA.
The last time Thompson and Curry played a season together, both stars averaged 21.5 and 27.3 points per game, respectively. Curry and Thompson were a deadly duo when healthy. They could be back in action soon.
Another Warriors veteran was a big contributor to their early success. Draymond Green, who claimed to be the best defensive player ever in March, continues to stand up for his arguments this season. His hectic pace and defensive IQ brought him into the discussion for the league’s defensive player of the year award. The Warriors allow a league record of 100.9 points per game.
Meanwhile, Phoenix has distributed the ball, with six players scoring double-digit points on average. Led by Devin Booker, who scored 23.9 points per game and shot 41% of three, the Suns are one game away from hitting the franchise’s longest winning streak of 17 games.
The Sun’s final road trip saw victories over San Antonio, Cleveland and both New York teams. Booker’s 30 points helped avert the Nets’ fourth-quarter comeback in Brooklyn on Saturday.
The partnership between Booker and Chris Paul has worked well so far. Paul’s pass-first mentality brings out the best in the sun’s young stars. Paul ranks first at 10.1 in assists per game.
A former warrior tacitly contributes to the success of the suns. Center JaVale McGee is having one of the best seasons of his 13 year career. Averaging over 10 points and 7 rebounds at just 16 minutes per game, McGee is one of the most efficient players in the game. His player efficiency rating is in the top 12 this season, an unlikely feat for an RPG player.
The matchup between the Suns and Warriors could be the best game of the season yet. The Warriors will try to stifle Booker and Paul but may struggle to defend Deandre Ayton, who is Suns Center, which is one of Paul’s favorite targets. The Suns will face their toughest opponent yet after a week on the road, and fatigue could play a role. You have to rely on its depth to beat the fast paced game of the Warriors.
Curry himself said in a press conference after his game against the Los Angeles Clippers: This game is a test. Buckle up for a high-level battle between two teams at the top of their game.
Patrick Warren is a junior providing updates and opinions on all areas of professional sport. His column “Pro Prose” ran every second Tuesday.