Two of the best teams in the 2021-22 NBA season squared off on a Christmas Day special last night. The Golden State Warriors headed to Footprint Center to take on the Phoenix Suns, and they came out victorious.
Either team needed to establish their dominance with the first place as the reward. The superior defense of the Warriors made the difference as they won the game 116-107.
To many, that is a glimpse of what the Western Conference finals will look like, and the Warriors were happy to take the win, despite being undermanned. According to NBA reporter for ESPN Nick Friedell, Stephen Curry credited the win to their defensive prowess, using one of Michael Jordan's famous quotes.
“Our defensive presence tonight was unreal. Everybody who stepped foot on the floor took that personally and we just stuck with it. So a step in the right direction looking at the playoffs — which is still four months away.”
The Suns had a complete roster, but the Warriors successfully locked down their most threatening player from the field. Devin Booker, who is the leading scorer for the Suns, finished the game with only 13 points, 3 rebounds, three assists, and 2 steals despite playing 40 minutes. On the night, Chris Paul did most of the scoring for Suns, dropping 51 points and 8 assists.
Steph, who has always been perceived as a weak link on defense has significantly improved in that department, enough for Draymond Green to consider him one of the best defenders on the team. Green has talked about how he does not fear the Suns after their loss to them this season. Since then, they have won the next two meetings and will face off once more before the end of the season.
In the win last night, Steph scored 33 points, adding 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. Steph is still the frontrunner for the MVP award and is averaging 27.0 points in 31 games played this season.