When Stephen Curry’s 33 points ruined the Christmas of the Suns and their fans to allow the Warriors to take the lead in the Western Conference with a record of 27 wins and 6 losses, no one imagined that Golden State would then tread water as the Suns transformed into a winning machine.
Since then, the Suns have maintained their pace, with 36 wins in 44 games, while the Warriors have lost more than one out of two games: 23 losses in 42 games. The latest, Wednesday night, stands as a symbol of the season for both teams, with Suns solid and disciplined, and Warriors as brilliant as drafts.
” I just told the players: you can win by playing good basketball, you can win a trench match, described Monty Williams. ” But in the end the result is the same, we win. »
Phoenix, best away team in history
Tonight, the Suns didn’t play their best basketball but they stayed true to their game identity. Monty Williams’ team isn’t giving up the stick to get beat.
It’s a well-honed machine that moves at the same pace, regardless of the circumstances. What allow him to be almost unbeatable when the matches are played in the last moments. This season, the Suns have a record of 32 wins and 6 losses in close matches. Another stat: they’ve only lost 6 of their 38 away games, and that’s an NBA record so far. Finally, they never lost a match when they were leading after three quarters: 46 matches, 46 wins!
” Our discipline in the last minutes is a fruit of our work, recalled the coach. ” We work on that all the time. In those hot moments, all of our players looked to the bench and they knew exactly what they had to do. That’s what made the difference at the end of the game. »
This is precisely what the Warriors have been missing since the start of the year. Obviously, Steve Kerr’s men have extenuating circumstances. The Stephen Curry – Klay Thompson – Draymond Green trio played less than thirty minutes together. Andre Iguodala only returned from a long absence on Monday. And Steve Kerr has to shake up his rotation every ten games to find combinations that work.
Still, even with Stephen Curry on the court, the Warriors have suffered late in the game all season. Unlike the Suns, their playing identity doesn’t seem as firmly rooted as it was during their years of dominance. The roles are also reversed. The Suns have continuity and a collective experience while the Warriors rest on a historical base, of course, but suffer from a lack of general experience.
” We have regained our competitive spirit, our defense, two things we can build on.”
Despite the defeat and a new place lost in the standings in the West, the performance of the Warriors is encouraging. They played the best team in the league, eye to eye, rediscovering the energy they had in the first months of the season, with Draymond Green back at his best.
” We didn’t manage to finish the job but what I remember from the match is the return of our team. This evening, I recognized our team and I found that Draymond had taken a step. He was faster on the carrier and in the assists, “said Steve Kerr. ” It’s a good sign and it’s the way we have to play until the end of the season, before making better decisions at the end of the game. If we do that, we have the opportunity to play at a high level. »
If Draymond Green didn’t want to hear about moral victory, he too was encouraged by what the Warriors offered. ” We have regained our competitive spirit, our defense, and those are two things we can build on. Saturday (against the Jazz), it will be another complicated match but a match with real stakes. We have to make sure we play our basketball, and if we don’t commit so many loose balls, I think we will give ourselves a chance to win, and I know that we will respond. »
The question for Golden State now is consistency. Can they follow this momentum to the playoffs or will they continue their roller coaster of the last three months? Steve Kerr and Draymond Green believe that this confrontation against Phoenix will serve as a springboard for their team. The coming weeks will tell if they were right, but there is no more time to lose.
Interview in San Francisco.