After three days off thanks to the holidays, Phoenix goes back to work with a three-games-in-four-nights stretch that includes two division opponents in Golden State (tonight) and the Clippers (Monday).
The Warriors will be looking to avenge their Dec. 15 loss at Phoenix, when Phoenix withstood a late Stephen Curry scoring spree to take the 106-102 win.
Several factors from that game will play a part in tonight’s contest, which boasts early season importance due to the separation between the two teams in the standings. Phoenix is in sixth place in the West, just a game and a half ahead of Golden State.
Can Bledsoe/Dragic Trump Curry/Thompson Again?
In the last meeting, the Suns’ starting backcourt had more assists, rebounds, steals and free throws while scoring just three points less than their counterparts despite taking seven less shot attempts .
Golden State’s guards tend to feed off the energy of their fans, a big reason why they’re 10-4 at home. Thompson is especially more effective at Oracle Arena, where he shoots 50 percent from the field, compared to just 40.5 percent on the road.
Can Dragic Bust His Slump?
The Slovenian point guard is always a threat in the open floor, but is shooting just 42.4 percent from the field over the last five games, nearly six percent below his season average. He’s also hitting under 29 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc in that stretch.
Dragic’s last 20-plus scoring effort came against this Golden State team, a game that also marked the last time he connected on a three-point attempt. After going 0-for-10 since then, the Suns’ veteran might be due a breakout performance, particularly against an opponent that also likes to push the tempo.
Will Iguodala Make a Significant Difference?
There’s no doubting Andre Iguodala is one of the elite defenders and do-it-all talents in the NBA. The Warriors are undoubtedly thrilled to have him back after he missed 12 games due to a strained hamstring, the last one being the Phoenix game. They’ve won four of five since his return.
The question is whether his presence can turn a loss into a win tonight. Since returning, he’s averaging just 6.4 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent from the field. Meanwhile Golden State has lost nearly as many games with him (six) as without (seven).
Between that and being guarded by P.J. Tucker, Iguodala’s impact will be an interesting side note throughout tonight’s game.
Will Defense Frustrate Warriors?
In their last meeting, the Suns forced 20 Golden State turnovers, largely by getting their hands on the ball either in traffic or in the passing lanes for 13 steals.
The Warriors thrive on big scoring runs by their guards, so another night of forcing early turnovers that prevent them from getting a shot up in the first place would be ideal. In the Warriors’ four recent wins, Curry is averaging just two turnovers per contest, just shy of half his average on the season.
Will Frye Bounce Back Again?
Channing Frye hasn’t logged back-to-back single-digit scoring games since Nov. 13, when the veteran center was still getting his legs back after missing all of last season due to heart complications.
Since then he has followed every single-digit scoring effort with double-figures in the next game. He’s also proven adept at burning the Warriors already, having put up 20 points, including five three-pointers, in their last meeting.