With Devin Booker leaving the game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter, the Phoenix Suns (18-3) had the perfect excuse to come up short against the Golden State Warriors (18-3), who’ve been decapitating any and all who stand in their way all season.
But the complete opposite happened.
Thanks in part to Deandre Ayton (24 points, 11 boards) and Javale McGee dominating the paint, as well as a stifling defense that held Steph Curry to a career-worst shooting night (I didn’t even think holding Steph to 4-21 from the floor was humanly possible), the Suns extended their NBA-best winning streak to a jaw-dropping 17 games. It’s the longest such streak in the league since the Milwaukee Bucks were kicking ass and taking names with their own 18-game winning streak back in 2019.
Despite Curry’s struggles from the floor, the game was still within reach with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter—until Jae Crowder Jae Crowdered:
Because that’s the other thing: As NBC Sports points out, the Suns are no joke with the game on the line:
The Suns came into this game 8-1 in clutch games — within five points in the final five minutes — with an insane +47.8 net rating in those minutes.
They were better than that in this game. The Suns had a +59 net rating in the final 5:19 against the Warriors Tuesday. Golden State shot 2-of-8 in those minutes (both buckets in the final :44 seconds, when the game was already decided), Phoenix hit 5-7.
“You sort of forget about [the streak], because we’re just hooping,” point god Chris Paul told reporters after the game. “We prepare for every game the same way. When you do that, it’s about building habits. Three teams I’ve been on have won 17 in a row. It’s a really good feeling.”
And for those wondering how in the hell Phoenix was able to shut down Steph Curry, Mikal Bridges, who fell on the sword as his primary defender, gave away some trade secrets—which you might want to listen to, considering he held the three-time NBA champ to three points and 11.5 percent shooting in their 37 matchups on Tuesday night.
“What I really did was be aggressive and be attached through a lot of screens and a lot of [traps],” Bridges said. “But it’s a whole team thing, because if one guy messes up on a switch, there’s a slip or there’s a three for him. [...] I think our coverages and what the coaches put together on our schemes was really good, and we executed it pretty well.”
Tuesday’s game also served as a potential prelude for what we can expect in the postseason.
“With all of the mistakes we did have and how terrible I shot the ball, it was a close game down the stretch,” Curry said. “I know Booker got hurt, but yes, it was a good learning lesson for us. Understanding the intensity and the focus we need to beat a team like that.”
Personally, I can’t wait for the rematch. But in the interim, it’s looking like Phoenix’s next victim will be the Detroit Pistons, who’ll meet their fate on Thursday night.