After three straight wins over teams on the optimistic side of the playoff push, the Golden State Warriors begin a stretch Monday night that shouldn’t be high on stress.
A visit to Phoenix marks the first game in a string of five against teams outside of the playoff picture, though road games against the Suns have historically been a disaster for the Warriors.
Golden State (49-12) has won nine of 12 in the series, but the three losses have been the last three meetings in Phoenix (33-31). The Warriors have lost an astounding 70 of 82 visits dating to Jan. 9, 1980, and that NBA season’s worth of futility in one city includes a 107-95 Phoenix win on Nov. 9, in which the Warriors committed a season-high 27 turnovers.
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That’s been an area of concern lately for Warriors coach Steve Kerr with at least 15 in four straight games for the first time since opening the season with at least 17 in their first seven. It didn’t stop them from completing a perfect three-game homestand with Sunday’s 106-98 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Draymond Green led all scorers 23 points and is averaging 21.3 in three games, but it was the power forward’s versatility that drew praise from Kerr.
"I think clearly Draymond Green is the Defensive Player of the Year," Kerr said before the game, then added afterward of Green’s knowledge of the game, "He can coach the team, too."
Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston each had 21, and Stephen Curry played a more limited role while attempting fewer than 10 shots for just the fourth time this season.
He was 3 of 9 for 12 points but still went 2 for 2 from 3-point range and has connected on 57.4 percent (27 of 47) from long range in the last six games to pace a somehow still-improving perimeter attack for the Warriors.
"Nothing he does surprises me anymore," Kerr said.
In 10 games since returning from the All-Star break, Golden State has shot 42.6 percent from 3-point range. A 10-of-22 mark against the Clippers gave it an eighth straight performance with at least 10 makes from outside to match its best streak of the season and improve a league-best mark to 39.1 percent.
Dating to a 106-87 loss in Golden State on Jan. 31, the Suns are 5-11 as they endure the growing pains of a roster shakeup.
Saturday’s 89-79 loss in Cleveland featured their second worst offensive performance during that time, shooting just 35.7 percent. The typically high-scoring Suns, who rank third in the league at 105.3 points per game, have averaged 92.8 in five games.
Phoenix’s 3-point shooting has been as poor as Golden State’s has been good, failing to make 10 in eight straight games while shooting 28.9 percent.
Brandon Knight’s been part of that problem with an overall shooting mark of 31.2 percent in six games.
Alex Len was out after twisting his right ankle Friday at Brooklyn, an injury that first occurred before the All-Star break, but coach Jeff Hornacek said the center plans on facing Golden State.
"I don’t think he ever fully recovered from it, so it’s a little sore," Hornacek said.
The loss concluded a 2-2 road trip, and the Suns now open a five-game homestand that’s part of nine home dates in their next 10. After winning seven straight at home, they’ve dropped six of 10.