Don't tell Steph Curry.
Of course there's no other acceptable predication from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.
The game starts at 7:30 p.m., with TV coverage on NBA TV and FSAZ.
The Warriors are undefeated the day after Thanksgiving for a reason. They are averaging 114.3 points and 29.6 assists a game. To give you some context, the highest PPG number for a team since 2000 is 111 and the highest APG number for a team since 2000 is 27.4 (last year's Warriors).
Stephen Curry looks like this next generation's can't miss player. His style of play is creative, flashy and simply can't miss television whenever he is playing, regardless of the opponent. He's got the numbers to prove it.
Curry is averaging 32/5/6, which would put him in one of the most prestigious individual clubs in basketball history of attaining a 30/5/5 line for a season. Only Michael Jordan (6), Oscar Robertson (6), Wilt Chamberlain (2), Jerry West (2), LeBron James (2), Kobe Bryant (2), Dwyane Wade (1), Kevin Durant (1), Tracy McGrady (1), Rick Barry (1), and Pete Maravich (1) have done that before. That's it. There are a lot of all-time greats not on that list and everyone that has done it is truly elite. It's also worth mentioning that Curry is doing it as the point guard of one of the best teams in NBA history.
Besides the brilliance of Curry, the flexibility of the Warriors is what is so alluring about their team and that is not epitomized any better than with The Lineup of Death, or as our friends at Golden State of Mind call it, the Small Ball Death Squad. The SBDS consists of Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green. They are used like a closer in baseball, coming in at the end of games and as their perfect record shows, they haven't failed yet.
The stats speak for themselves. In 62 minutes played, an OffRtg of 157.8 and a DefRtg of 86.7 is simply ridiculous. They have an AST/TO ratio of 3.57 and their 82 percent true-shooting percentage is a full 15 percent better than any other lineup in the NBA that has played at least 50 minutes.
Curry (43%),Thompson (39%), Barnes (40%), Iguodala (46%), and Green (44%) are all currently tremendous shooters from three-point land and are all taking at least three attempts per game. If you want to pick that as your favorite thing about the lineup I don't blame you, but the best part for me personally is how terrific all five are defensively. Green and Iguodala showcased last season how they are some of the best individual defenders in the NBA, Thompson and Barnes continue to improve year after year, and Curry has turned into a fantastic team defender despite still being average to above average on the ball.
The SBDS matters so much because if the Suns are even close to the Warriors in the fourth quarter head coach Luke Walton will turn to this lineup and shut the game down. The Suns have a couple of players who match up well with this lineup like P.J. Tucker and the two point guards, but you need five very ideal players that match the style to throw against the SBDS to stay with them, let alone beat them.
Matchup wise, the Warriors have a couple of things going for them that the Suns look to take advantage of normally. They are very deep, can go small better than any other team, have two legitimate NBA centers in Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut and are the best three-point defense in the NBA (29%). All signs point to a rough go for Phoenix.
It's been a strange season for the Suns so far. They are 1-5 in games decided by single digits, have got an awful start to the season from Markieff Morris and a less than ideal one from Tyson Chandler. Yet, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight have been a top three NBA backcourt and Devin Booker looks like he's ready for his rotation minutes right now.
It will be interesting to see who the Suns put out there against the SBDS when they come out. The problem for the Suns is the fifth spot. Morris and Tucker down low and Knight and Bledsoe at the guards makes sense and match up well with the SBDS, but who plays SF?
You have to be on your game 100 percent of the time on both sides of the ball against the SBDS so that takes out the young guys like Booker, T.J. Warren, and Archie Goodwin. Despite being solid defenders in their own ways, Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer do not have the foot speed to keep up with any of the five in the SBDS.
That leaves Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, Ronnie Price, Sonny Weems, Cory Jefferson, and Bryce Cotton. Despite the problems they present by being too small or too big, Chandler and Price are probably the two best choices. The most likely selection would be Booker or Warren, but it's really difficult to trust them against such an incredible lineup. The starting five might be the best bet or if one of those bench players gets a hot hand early in the game.
It's safe to say the Suns are better than their record, but we might be saying that for a while now with the challenging schedule coming up .Regardless, this is a big stage and the Suns tend to play their best basketball when that is the case.
Markieff Morris. He's been in a terrible rut to start the season, but signs point to #Keefback after his 28-point performance against the San Antonio Spurs.
Even with the slight resurgence, he will most likely be defended by Green and the Suns are notorious for struggling when Morris has what I like to call his "nuclear" games. Here are the examples last year of his bad shooting performances and the result in the game from some dude with Brad Miller in his twitter picture.
Keef last year: 4-14, W 1-8, L 3-15, L 3-20, L 1-13, L 2-14, L 3-10, L 2-10, L— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) November 3, 2015
As Pete Campbell once said, not great, Bob. The Suns will not win this game solely on the backs of Knight and Bledsoe and Morris is the most likely candidate to swing the game.
Stats courtesy of basketball reference and ESPN.
Nearly a month into the 2015-16 NBA season, only five Western Conference teams have a winning record. By contrast, there are 9 - NINE - East teams with winning records.
Bizarro world indeed!
Over the past 10+ years, the West has been the winningest conference by a wide margin over the East. The debate over whether 9th seeded West team should make the playoffs ahead of the 8th seeded East team was a legitimate debate every year.
Last year, the 9th-seeded OKC Thunder were 45-37 and sported two of the NBA's top 10 most watchable players but missed the playoffs, while the wholly disappointing 38-44 Brooklyn Nets made it there in the East. You had to go all they way up to the 5th seed in the East to find a better record than the Thunder's.
The year before, the 48-34 Phoenix Suns would have tied for the 3rd seed in the East with the same record, but finished 9th in the West and went home without a playoff appearance.
The East has put a losing team in the playoffs for three straight seasons, but this year so far looks to be a total switcharoo.
Basketball-reference.com's playoff probabilities model is now out, and based on early-season results it predicts the 7-8 Phoenix Suns to finish as high as 5th in the West with a (rounded up) 42-40 record, while the Memphis Grizzlies squeak into the West playoffs with a measly 41-41 record.
By contrast, the East prediction model has the Boston Celtics grabbing a playoff spot as the 8th seed with a robust 44-38 record.
It's early, and most of these predictions can be thrown out the window. I find it hard to believe that the Clippers and Rockets would miss the playoffs in the West despite their lackluster start, or that Minnesota will make the 7th seed.
So take all this with a dose of tryptophan.
Yet, you can't discount the model entirely. Nearly 20% of the schedule has already been played. That's enough time to watch trends and smooth out at least a few anomalies. The b-ref prediction model plays out the rest of the season 7,500 times against each team's current schedule, and has been fairly accurate in past years. For example, that model had the Suns finishing 9th and 10th the past two years for much of each season.
How can the Suns possibly finish 5th in the West, given what we've seen? Frankly, it's all about the other teams.
I don't think many Suns fans would discount the possibility of a 42-40 season from this group. They've got, according to b-ref, a top-10 offense AND middling defense so far this season and one of the league's better point differentials, despite being 7-8 overall.
If a 42-40 record gets you into the West playoffs this season, I'll take it. I am so ready for this team to play meaningful basketball in April. So, so ready.