The Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry, will face the Phoenix Suns on the road for the second time this season on Wednesday night.
Despite the fact that this contest has been billed as a rivalry for the past 12 months, no such rivalry has ever emerged between the two teams.
Due to the Suns’ collapse in the second round, the Western Conference Finals meeting between these two teams that were expected to happen last year never occurred.
At this time, neither the Suns nor the Warriors are displaying particularly dominant play. The Warriors’ record is shockingly bad at 6-8. Even though the Suns are in a better position than most of the Western Conference playoff hopefuls, their 8-5 record belies the fact that they have been less dominant than usual during the regular season.
Because both teams are desperate for a victory, this matchup between the Warriors and Suns should be exciting to watch. While neither team has sustained a significant number of injuries, there have been some noteworthy developments.
Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder are both expected to miss time for the Suns. Chris Paul, a veteran point guard, is doubtful due to right heel pain.
Only Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Andre Iguodala will be sidelined for the Warriors. The matchup would be even more intriguing if Chris Paul were to play, as both teams would have nearly their entire rotations available.
When It Comes Down To The Wire, Do You Anticipate Any Major Absences Or Changes?
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN’s Malika Andrews categorically that the league has no plans to “pause” the season or postpone any of the Christmas Day games. There may be some last-minute adjustments to the schedule, though, as he acknowledged.
Any changes to the scheduled beginning times? A single competition out of the five might get scrapped. It’s horrible to have to wait around like this.
Although much is still up in the air, one thing is for sure (unfortunately): marquee stars will be missing in action.
Every day, new players enter health and safety protocols, but here is the current list of bigwigs and other key names who might not be able to leave in time for tip-off:
- Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks: Trae Young, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, Immanuel Quickley, Nerlens Noel
- Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Grant Williams, Donte DiVincenzo
- Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns: Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee
- Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers: Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, Malik Monk, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley
- Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz: Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock
However, this doesn’t account for the stars who might be injured and unable to perform on Christmas Day.
Anthony Davis will be out for some time due to a sprained MCL. The Mavericks are treating Kristaps Porzingis (toe) as a day-to-day situation. It is expected that Klay Thompson will not return from his Achilles injury until the new year.
Is There Going To Be A Kaboom Among The Group Of Players Under 10-Day Contracts?
The number of 10-day contract players added to active rosters has increased to the point where it happens nearly every hour. The idea of glorified temporary workers taking on the same risk as better-compensated players on longer-term guaranteed contracts is at the very least unsettling, if not alarming, and can lead to unrecognizable rotations and on-court products.
With so many players out injured or on 10-day contracts, the pool of NBA’s fringe players should be sure to deliver a memorable performance at some point.
Does Isaiah Thomas have a big game for the Los Angeles Lakers on what is, in theory, the last day of his contract? If the Brooklyn Nets’ top scorers are sidelined, could Langston Galloway or James Ennis III find their stroke from long range?
Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd used 10-day contract player Marquese Chriss in the final minutes of the team’s Dec. 21 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, instead of an established big man like Theo Pinson, who had played 22 minutes in his Mavs debut. Is there a chance that one of them will detonate?
Perhaps CJ Miles makes a ton of threes for the Boston Celtics, a team that desperately needs more reliable outside shooters. Perhaps with a stellar defensive performance, Damyean Dotson can win back the favor of New York Knicks fans. Perhaps Shaquille Harris causes a stir in Brooklyn. Jemerrio Jones could see increased playing time for the Lakers.
Maybe someone, or multiple people, on a 10-day contract give a performance on Christmas Day that earns them a longer contract for the rest of the season.
Out — Andre Iguodala (left hip injury management)
At this point, you should know what to expect. Iguodala waited until the day before training camp started to decide whether or not to come back for a final NBA season. The Warriors are taking it easy on him so he can return to full health in the months of April, May, and June. When exactly we’ll see him is a mystery.
Mr. Patrick Baldwin, Jr., you’re out.
This is not a major blow to the Warriors, as Baldwin is currently the team’s last reserve player. The fact that he’s only 19 and already missing games due to back issues is concerning, though. God willing, it’s nothing major.
On Wednesday, the Dubs will be down to just 12 players after sending James Wiseman and Ryan Rollins to the G League.
Out — Landry Shamet (concussion protocol)
It worries me to see players go through the concussion protocol, so I hope Shamet is fine. He’s had a good year for the Suns so far, averaging 7.0 points in 16.2 minutes per game while shooting 36.4% from deep (which is low for him but should go up).
In just the eighth game of the season, Johnson tore his meniscus, just like James Wiseman did in his rookie year. The loss of Johnson, who had been starting at small forward for Phoenix,
is devastating for both the player and the team. Johnson has undergone surgery, but he will be back in action in a couple of months.
A discussion of LeBron James and Kevin Durant deserves this much room. So now we’re left wondering how the Los Angeles Lakers will fare without Anthony Davis.
It’s worth noting that big men Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan are both free agents. The Lakers will definitely use them. But they will have no choice but to temporarily downsize their living arrangements (which they may even welcome with open arms).
This resulted in a bit of LeBron at the center and some time where Carmelo Anthony or Trevor Ariza played the role of the de facto 5 in their Dec. 21 loss to the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers also ran drills featuring all three of Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, and Rajon Rondo.
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