The 24-13 Golden State Warriors and 9-28 Phoenix Suns are currently at opposite ends of the Western Conference standings. But their game against each other tonight might not be as lopsided as you think (9pm ET Monday, New Year’s Eve).
The two-time defending champion Warriors have not been close to the dominant team they were for much of the past four seasons. Golden State’s record is just 14-12 in its last 26 games, and the star-studded team has rarely blown out the opposition. The Warriors have struggled with injuries, but they have also regressed on defense and had a couple of their perennial All-Stars (Draymond Green and Klay Thompson) struggle.
Phoenix started the season terribly, getting blown out frequently. However, the young Suns team has been respectable in the past few weeks. They have won five of their last nine games and have an overall point differential of plus-1.7 per game in that stretch.
This game will be played in Phoenix. Can the squad’s inexperienced players play well as they host the star-studded Warriors? In this preview, we will break down the matchup and then advise on which betting lines you should take as part of our Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns predictions.
Will Deandre Ayton Impose His Will on Warriors’ Big-Man Rotation?
Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins is still on the sidelines recovering from his Achilles injury. Because of this, the Warriors’ rotation at center is the weakest part of the team. Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, Draymond Green and Jonas Jerebko all get minutes at the 5. Green is easily the best of those players, but he doesn’t have the size to play there consistently
The Suns, meanwhile, have 7’1”, 250-pound rookie Deandre Ayton at the center position. In his last eight games, Ayton is averaging 21.4 points, 14.1 rebounds, 1 block and 1.4 steals per game. He had an amazing 24-point quarter against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. He is also improving rapidly on defense, an area that is considered his biggest weakness.
The Warriors are at a significant talent advantage in this game overall, but Ayton can help nullify that by dominating his own matchups.
Can Suns Stay Competitive in the Three-Point Battle?
The Suns’ recent competitive stretch got started thanks to one big improvement: their three-point defense. Phoenix’s had a run of three consecutive wins where it allowed opponents to a combined 21-of-103 (20.4 percent) shooting from downtown.
Since then those numbers have regressed to the mean. In the last six games, opponents have heated up to shoot 77-of-193 (39.9 percent) from behind the arc.
Phoenix will play arguably the league’s most dangerous three-point shooting team in the league today. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Quinn Cook can all get hot, especially Curry and Thompson.
Unfortunately, the Suns themselves aren’t very lethal from downtown. They rank only 19th in the league and 26th in the league in three-point makes per game and percentage, respectively. Phoenix needs to play good perimeter defense and make its open looks when they arise.
Is Klay Thompson’s Swagger Back?
When Stephen Curry and Draymond Green were injured for a few weeks earlier in the season, Thompson got a lot of usage as a ball-handler and shooter.
Since they have returned, though, he has fallen out of rhythm as his usage has dropped. Thompson averaged just 14.4 points in an eight-game stretch between December 12 and 27 after averaging 25.2 points in the previous 21 contests.
However, Thompson rebounded in a big way on Saturday by dropping 32 points on the Portland Trail Blazers. It was his highest point total in exactly two months.
A one-game sample size is small compared to the weeks that Thompson struggled for, but sometimes it can be enough to give confidence back to a player. A big Thompson game would make the Warriors nearly impossible for the Suns to stop today.
Our Preview’s Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
Even in the Warriors’ recent wins, they haven’t played that well. I expect a single-digit Warriors win where the Suns stay either leading or very close behind all game long. So these are my Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns predictions:
- The Warriors are listed as a 10-point favorite with all the legal US online betting websites that have offered odds on this game so far. Place your bet on the Suns +10pts @ -105 with Bovada.
- Golden State has had trouble finding its offensive flow with its four stars back in the lineup, and Phoenix has been involved in more low-scoring games in the past few weeks. So the second of our picks is to bet the under 227 total points @ -110 with Bovada.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.