Warriors vs. Suns Preview: Why Golden State Is Primed to Pull the Upset

Chris Baker breaks down Wednesday's NBA matchup on ESPN between the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns.

Warriors vs. Suns Odds

Warriors Odds +2
Suns Odds -2
Over/Under 226
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The champs have struggled significantly to begin the season, but do they hold value against a Suns team with a plethora of injury issues? Let’s dive in and examine both of these teams.

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Warriors Starters Have an Edge

The defending champs have begun the year 6-8 despite playing the sixth-easiest schedule in the NBA, according to They currently rank just 20th in Adjusted Net Rating, but there is reason for optimism given that their starters have been great.

The starting five ranks in the 89th percentile in Point Differential as they are a +23.9 per 100 possessions, scoring 128.7 points per 100 possessions and allowing just 104.8 points per 100. They also rank in the 100th percentile in Effective Field Goal percentage (65.4%).

The starting five has been excellent, but their bench units have been poor, which should have been expected as it is difficult to replace the production they were getting from Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II last year. The combination of extremely young players (James Wiseman, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga) and new faces (Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green) has struggled meshing with each other, but I think that will get ironed out.

The bench doesn’t need to be great when the starters are playing this well, and that is especially true for this matchup where they will face a weaker Suns bench.

The Warriors starters should have a decisive advantage over the Suns starters as the Phoenix lineup with Cameron Payne and Torrey Craig in the starting rotation has been horrible. Through 159 possessions, the Suns are -26.7, allowing 126.7 points per 100 and scoring just 100.0. That ranks in the second percentile of all lineups in the NBA in 2022-2023, and the Warriors starters should consistently win these minutes.

The Warriors also have another advantage in their ability to take away the rim. They have been elite at limiting easy rim looks as they lead the NBA in Defensive Rim Rate, allowing just 28.0% of opponent attempts to occur at the rim. The Suns rank just 29th in Offensive Rim Rate already, so I wouldn’t expect this to be the game where they suddenly start attacking the basket. Expect Phoenix to live in the midrange area.

Can Booker Carry the Suns?

The Suns have been one of the least healthy teams in the NBA but have managed to remain efficient as they rank third in Adjusted Net Rating. Phoenix blew Golden State out by 29 when these two teams met earlier this season. In that game, the Suns shot 41% from 3 while the Warriors struggled by shooting just 28.6% from deep.

I didn’t think the Warriors played terribly in that game as their defensive process was sound. They did a nice job limiting shots at the rim and 3-point line while forcing the Suns into midrange shots. Phoenix shot the ball extremely efficiently from the field and pulled away in the second half.

The Suns should struggle to replicate that efficiency as they have lost two key starters in Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson since that game on October 25th. Without Paul and Johnson on the court, the Warriors should devote more attention to Devin Booker, who had 34 points in the first matchup. The Suns may struggle if Booker can’t get hot as the shooting surrounding him is definitely lacking compared to what they had with Johnson and Paul.

Warriors-Suns Pick

I expect the Warriors to bounce back against an undermanned Phoenix team. The Warriors have heard the narrative around them for the past few weeks, and this is a terrific opportunity to make a statement on national TV.

They should consistently win the minutes with their starting five, and the bench should survive against a weaker Suns bench. The Warriors will come out with urgency and make a statement on Wednesday night.

Pick: Warriors Moneyline (+110)