Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors (-9.5, 224.5 o/u)
The Golden State Warriors (36-8) no longer have the best record in the NBA. After months at the top of the league, the Oakland squad has dropped two games in a row and finds itself surpassed by the surging Atlanta Hawks. The Warriors will need to a win tonight against the Phoenix Suns (28-20) in order to stay within striking distance of Atlanta. The Warriors and Suns square off at Oracle Arena at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.
Both teams played last night with Golden State losing to the Jazz (110-100) and Phoenix overcoming the Bulls (99-93).
The Warriors remain the best offensive team in the league, averaging 111 points per game, and ball movement is key to their success; Golden State averages over 27.3 assists per game, and constantly makes the extra pass to find the open shooter.
The team’s play at Oracle Arena has been particularly awe-inspiring this year, as the Warriors are an NBA-best 21-2 on home court.
On the other side of the floor, the Phoenix Suns are one of the few teams in the league that can run-and-gun with Golden State. Phoenix averages over 107 points per game and has five players averaging over 13 points per game. A hallmark of their balanced offense, the Suns’ leading scorer, Eric Bledsoe, is averaging 16.7 PPG (just three points more than their fifth-leading scorer, Gerald Green).
The Suns have been decent on the road, going 13-11 away from home on the year. However, they are about to find themselves in an epic battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Suns currently own that slot, but the Pelicans and Thunder are both making a move.
If Phoenix wants to land a playoff berth at the end of the season, the team will have to tighten up on defense, in particular when it has a lead.
“We’ve seen it happen, when we get up we have a tendency to do whatever and not be solid,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Some of that is the pace. That’s how we get the lead — all of a sudden we’re coming down and we hit two or three 3s in a row … Then you have that same stretch of time and you come down and miss two or three in a row and it can reverse quickly the other way.”
The Suns have won two of the last three games against Golden State, covering the spread in all three. But the best play tonight, when these two high-scoring teams meet, may be the over, despite it being at a very high 224.5.
(Photo credit: Joseph Glorioso Photography (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode].)