NBA’s best records collide as Warriors visit Suns
The teams with the two best records in the NBA will collide when the Golden State Warriors visit the Phoenix Suns as part of the league’s Christmas showcase on Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors (26-6), who missed the playoffs last season, are playing on the holiday for the ninth straight year. The Suns (26-5), who reached the 2021 Finals, were not part of the featured lineup last season.
Golden State lost 138-99 at Milwaukee last Christmas, and head coach Steve Kerr wasn’t thrilled with being on the road again this year.
“Generally, I like playing on Christmas. It’s exciting,” he said before Thursday night’s 113-104 home win against the Memphis Grizzlies. “I love playing at home on Christmas. That way you can still have a good family day Christmas morning with the kids and then go to the arena later. It’s tough being on the road for Christmas, but it’s part of being in the NBA.
“It is an honor to play on Christmas — it’s a showcase and everybody’s watching — but I do think there should be a rule in the NBA that you can’t be on the road two years in a row.”
Both clubs are playing well entering the showdown, with the Suns having won 15 in a row at home and five straight overall, while the Warriors have taken five of their past six.
They’ve met twice previously this season. Phoenix prevailed 104-96 at home on Nov. 30 behind double-doubles by Deandre Ayton (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Chris Paul (15 points, 11 assists).
Three days later, Golden State exacted a measure of revenge with a 118-96 home win. Stephen Curry, held to 12 points on 4-of-21 shooting in the earlier meeting, led the way with 23.
Less than a month later, the teams will have a different look for this nationally televised affair.
The Warriors will be without Jordan Poole, who had 28 points in the loss at Phoenix, and Andrew Wiggins, who contributed 19 to the home win, due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Meanwhile, the Suns will have leading scorer Devin Booker, who suffered a hamstring strain in the second quarter of the first meeting and sat out the rest of the win, as well as the Suns’ next seven games, including the rematch with the Warriors.
Booker has gotten more productive by the game in his three outings since returning to the lineup last Sunday, scoring 16, 24 and then 30 points in Thursday’s 113-101 home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Cam Johnson is among the Suns happy with the holiday scheduling, including the early start.
“Just like a dream come true,” he declared Thursday. “Playing on Christmas. Just super-excited about that.
“Families are extremely important to me. Last year I was by myself and we traveled to Sacramento (for a game on the 26th). The turnaround to having my family here now. … Mom’s home cooking on Christmas Eve, and Mom’s home cooking on Christmas night, which we get because we play the 3 p.m. (Mountain time) game. That’s precious to me.”
Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.