Thanks to a little magic from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Golden State Warriors were able to overcome a slow start against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, and won despite not having Andrew Bogut or David Lee in the lineup. On Saturday, the Warriors will meet the Phoenix Suns for the third time this year. Although there are still plenty of games to be played, this one could have significant meaning in the standings, as the Suns are just 0.5 games behind Golden State.
Frontcourt: In the first game of the season between these two teams, Channing Frye provided a difficult matchup as a stretch-4, dropping a very efficient 20 points and hitting five 3-pointers. Miles Plumlee has been surprisingly good this year, and put up just around his season average numbers against the Warriors, but he generally isn’t a major threat on offense. P.J. Tucker has been a solid 3-and-d guy playing major minutes for Phoenix, and put up a really solid stat line in the second meeting with 11 points, 12 rebounds and four steals in 28 minutes.
Backcourt: Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have worked surprisingly well this season, but Bledsoe has been sidelined with a knee injury. In his absence, Dragic has been phenomenal, finding a perfect balance between scoring and playmaking. With Bledsoe out, Gerald Green is putting togehter the best season of his career. He was mostly known for his exceptional athleticism, but has had some truly crucial performances this year. He is very streaky, but when his shots are falling, he can easily put up anywhere between 25 to 30 points.
Keys to Warriors Victory:
SLOW DOWN Goran Dragic
At this point, pretty much all of the Suns’ offense goes through Dragic. He has absolutely caught fire in his last six games, putting up 25.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 61.4% from the field in that period. He is widely considered an All-Star snub and he has played at a borderline All-Star level all season long. Dragic is a very elusive player and attacks the basket relentlessly. In his last meeting against the Warriors, Dragic was limited to just eight points, and the Suns lost by 29.
It was a little surprising that Mark Jackson opted to start Draymond Green ahead of Barnes against the Bulls. Barnes’ numbers see a huge bump when he shares the floor with Curry, and he struggles without a playmaker. He had a bit of a slow start against Chicago, but made some pretty significant shots to put the Bulls away. Whether Jackson sticks with his decision to start Green remains to be seen.
Phoenix Suns (29-20) vs. Golden State Warriors (30-20)
6:00 PM PST, February 8, 2014
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: KNBR 680 AM
Suns Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Goran Dragic
SG: Gerald Green
SF: P.J. Tucker
PF: Channing Frye
C: Miles Plumlee
Key Reserves: G Leandro Barbosa, F Marcus & Markieff Morris