The Golden State Warriors did the Phoenix Suns a favor by knocking off the Utah Jazz on Monday.
Now they’d love to do the same for the Jazz at the Suns’ expense when they complete a home back-to-back against the top two clubs in the Western Conference on Tuesday night.
The Warriors (36-33) clinched a spot in the NBA’s new play-in tournament after a late 3-pointer by Stephen Curry sent them to a 119-116 victory over the visiting Jazz on Monday.
The win kept them a half-game in front of Memphis (35-33) in their duel for the coveted eighth spot in the West. The Grizzlies host Dallas on Tuesday.
Golden State’s win narrowed Utah’s advantage over Phoenix (48-20) atop the West to 1 1/2 games. The Suns won the season series over the Jazz (50-19), so they would claim the conference’s No. 1 seed should the teams finish in a tie.
Utah doesn’t play again until Wednesday, when it hosts Portland.
The Warriors and Suns will be meeting for the third time this season, with Phoenix having dominated both earlier matchups at home.
The Suns used superior depth despite the absence of Devin Booker as the foundation for a 114-93 win in January. They received 12 or more points from seven players while the Warriors put just three in double figures, including Curry with 27.
The rematch two months later had a different look, but the same outcome, with the Suns again getting double-figure scoring from seven players, including Booker with 16. The Warriors, without Curry and Draymond Green, had just four players with nine or more points.
Curry and Booker have yet to go head-to-head this season, but the high-scoring guards have dueled 12 times in their careers, with the Golden State star holding a 29.0-18.6 scoring advantage. The Warriors have won 10 of those 12 games.
Curry continued his march toward an NBA scoring title with 36 points in the win over the Jazz, but Golden State coach Steve Kerr credited a team effort for the fifth win in their last six games.
“The last two weeks have been a case of a team coming together,” he observed after Monday’s win. “We’ve been in a nice groove here. This is one of our best wins, given the quality of the competition.”
The Suns have lost two of three since a five-game winning streak. They will be playing on the road for the fifth time in their last six games, a stretch that continues beyond Tuesday with two of their final three games on the road as well.
Phoenix is coming off a 123-110 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, a game in which the Suns gave up the first seven points and never caught up.
That’s a correctable error, guard Cameron Payne insisted after the defeat.
“We’ve got to be the ones to send the message,” he demanded, “instead of the other team coming right in and sending the message to us.”
–Field Level Media
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