Warriors get revenge, snap Suns' 18-game win streak with playoff-level defense, energy and adjustments
The budding Warriors-Suns rivalry added its latest installment on Friday night
SAN FRANCISCO -- Steph Curry's famed pregame shooting routine took a little longer than usual on Friday night. Midway through a series of corner 3-pointers, his former teammate and current Phoenix Suns assistant coach Jarrett Jack stopped by to exchange pleasantries. A few minutes later, Curry approached the sideline to converse with his former head coach, Mark Jackson, who was part of the ESPN broadcast team. Before he made his way down the court for his concluding tunnel shot, Curry stopped to take a selfie with a young fan.
All this to say, this was not a normal, early December, regular-season game.
Chase Center was nearly at capacity well before the opening whistle of the Golden State Warriors' 118-96 win over the Phoenix Suns, which put an end to Phoenix's 18-game winning streak and exacted revenge for a Golden State loss in their first matchup just three nights prior. With the win, the Warriors improved to a league-best 19-3, moving a half-game ahead of the Suns as both teams continue to break away from the rest of the Western Conference.
The term "playoff atmosphere" is bandied about willy-nilly all too often in the sports world, so it's prudent to approach the phrase with caution. But having attended dozens of Warriors playoff games over the last few years at Oracle Arena, I feel confident saying that if this wasn't quite a postseason environment, it was as close as it gets in the regular season.
"You don't want them to come into your building and keep that streak going," Curry said after the game. "It is nice to protect your home court, and something's got to give. We've had a really good home record and a nice streak going ourselves here in this building. We'd rather keep ours going than let theirs live."
Friday's win over the Suns was Golden State's 11th straight home victory by 13 or more points, which ties the NBA record set by a previous iteration of the Warriors during the 2014-15 season.
Playoff atmosphere doesn't just come from a raucous crowd -- which was prevalent on Friday night -- or the execution of the two teams -- which was precise. It comes from the buzz of the arena, the extra cameras on the baselines during pregame, the number of reporters walking the sidelines. And once the game starts, there have to be signature, flashbulb moments, like the one Juan Toscano-Anderson delivered over Suns center JaVale McGee toward the end of the first quarter.