'Good test for us': Warriors set to face Suns in showdown for NBA's best record

Duane Rankin
Arizona Republic

The Warriors are playing so good that the Suns haven't overtaken them for the NBA's best record even with a historic surge of consecutive victories going.

Winners of 14 of their last 15, Golden State (18-2) will travel to Phoenix (17-3) for a Tuesday showdown at Footprint Center for the top spot in the league.

"It's early in the season, we all know that," said Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry after Sunday's 105-90 victory over the Clippers. "It's a good measuring stick against a team that's won, what is it, 16, 15 games (in a row), whatever it is, who was in the finals last year and they have confidence in who they are. They have an identity of how to win games. So it's going to be a good test for us and hopefully, we're ready for it."

The Suns are coming off a 113-107 win Saturday at Brooklyn to set the second-longest win streak in franchise history at 16 in a row.

Now they can tie the team record with a win over the Warriors in an 8 p.m. game TNT is televising.

"I'm looking forward to it, man," Suns All-Star Devin Booker said after Saturday's win. "Obviously not a make-or-break game, not a playoff game, but we know it's going to be high energy. Two best records in the NBA. It's going to be high intensity and a fun game."

The Warriors can put an end to Phoenix's impressive run of victories before an anticipated sellout crowd at Footprint Center. The Suns have only had one sellout in their 10 home games this season after reaching the finals last season.

That came against Dallas in an 112-104 win Nov. 19. The Suns are 8-2 at home while the Warriors are 7-1 on the road with the loss coming at Charlotte, 106-102, Nov. 14.

"I just want to win," Suns coach Monty Williams after Monday's practice. "That's how I view it and I want to continue to grow as a program. I'm sure there's tons of buildup and it should be"

Not nearly enough for Suns backup big JaVale McGee.

"I just hope it gets all the news heads and everything," said McGee, who won two championships with the Warriors. "A team that's won 16 in a row versus the No. 1 team in the league. That should be a pretty big headline, but I haven't seen it anywhere. It's really not getting all the publicity everybody else is, but we're cool with leaving our heads down being a great team and locking in on what we do and just keeping it in-house and feel like the world will see when the time comes." 

While Golden State's current win streak isn't as long as Phoenix's, the Warriors have won their last seven.

"I think it'll be a good game, highly anticipated," Warriors forward Draymond Green said Sunday. "Two teams that's playing well. Obviously, they've won 16 in a row. You want to be the team to go stop that and we've got a great opportunity to do it, but overall, I think it'll be a very tough game. Nobody's going to walk in there and walk out with a win. You've got to go in there, earn a win and take the win and just go all you can to try to take them away the things that they like to do." 

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green celebrates during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in San Francisco, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu).

With the Warriors and Suns first and third, respectively, in defensive rating, and second and seventh in offensive rating, respectively, the two teams are very evenly matched and are mirrors of each other in terms of style of play.

"We both move without the ball," Williams said. "We have dynamic players on the outside for sure, but I think there are some differences, too. It's hard to say. I've watched them a ton, but I haven't looked at them from a holistic, analytical standpoint to see if there are that many similarities but I think we both know you have to defend at a high, high level if you want to be more than just a good team." 

This will be the first of three matchups between the two teams within 30 days.

The Suns play Friday at Golden State.

Then the two will meet up again Christmas Day in Phoenix.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 27:  Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns celebrates after he drew the foul against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on November 27, 2021 in New York City.

"They're a great two-way team," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "They defend really well and they're really efficient offensively. They kind of know who they are. You know what they're going to do pattern-wise. They're going to get into ball screens and spread the floor with 3-point shooters."

Kerr praised Deandre Ayton and former Warriors center JaVale McGee for their ability to finish around the basket, rim running and dives to the rim.

"Putting a lot of pressure on your defense," Kerr continued. "Monty (Williams) has done an incredible job the last couple of years of just building the foundation. Obviously went to the finals a year ago. They're a fantastic team."

The Suns have a game between their first and second matchup with Golden State as they play Detroit at home Thursday, while the Warriors' next two are against Phoenix.

"We know how good that team is over there," Paul said Saturday. "They have a culture. They have an identity. They're led by Steph and Draymond. That's a tough team anytime you play against them."

The Suns and Warriors have faced 10 common opponents this season and are a combined 21-3 in those games.

Phoenix lost at Portland, 134-105, and to Sacramento, 110-107, while Golden State's lone defeat came in overtime, 104-101, versus Memphis.

  • vs. Lakers (Suns 1-0, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Blazers (Suns 1-1, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Kings  (Suns 1-1, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Grizzlies (Suns 1-0, Warriors 0-1).
  • vs. Pelicans (Suns 1-0, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Rockets (Suns 2-0, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Hawks (Suns 1-0, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Timberwolves (Suns 1-0, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Nets (Suns 1-0, Warriors 1-0).
  • vs. Cavaliers (Suns 2-0, Warriors 1-0).

 Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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