With 17 consecutive victories over the Suns, the Warriors have a compelling reason to make it 18 when the teams meet Friday night in Phoenix.
Coverage on NBC Sports begins at 5:00 p.m. with Warriors Pregame, followed by tipoff from Talking Stick Resort Arena at 6:00 p.m. Warriors Postgame follows the telecast.
Among the goals of the Warriors (38-15) is to post the NBA’s best record, thereby earning the No. 1 overall seed throughout the postseason. The Western Conference leaders are two games behind the Bucks, who lead the Eastern Conference.
But the race to the top of East got more treacherous this week, with the Raptors, 76ers, and Bucks making significant trades bound to tighten the race over the final two months of the season.
The Suns (11-45), meanwhile, are in tank mode, competing with the Knicks in a race to the bottom, both teams hoping to parlay that into an improved position for the June draft.
Put simply, the Warriors and Suns both have an incentive — to proceed in completely opposite directions.
F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C DeMarcus Cousins
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry
F Mikal Bridges
F Dragan Bender
C Deandre Ayton
G Josh Jackson
G Elie Okobo
Warriors: C Damian Jones (left pectoral surgery) is listed as out.
Suns: SG Devin Booker (right hamstring tightness), G De’Anthony Melton (right ankle sprain) and F T.J. Warren (right ankle soreness) are listed as out.
Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr said Friday morning that he has no plans to rest anyone, which suggests he’ll stay with his nine-man rotation, with F/G Andre Iguodala, PG Shaun Livingston, C/F Kevon Looney, and F Alfonzo McKinnie.
That said, it’s also likely that PF Jonas Jerebko could get minutes.
PG Quinn Cook is in the throes of his worst shooting slump since he came to the Warriors before last season. He is 4-of-29 from deep over his last 13 games.
Suns: The absence of Warren, the team’s No. 2 scorer, puts a massive void in the Phoenix offense. F Kelly Oubre Jr., acquired from Washington in December provides the best chance to fill it.
Assuming Booker starts for the Suns — he was a full participant shootaround, Thompson will get the defensive assignment.
Ayton, the No. 1 overall draft pick, is having a fine rookie season, averaging 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds. He’ll make the All-Rookie team, but the Rookie of the Year award already is engraved with the name of Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic.
Officials: Rodney Mott (chief), JT Orr, Leon Wood.