Warriors vs. Suns Odds
|Time||5 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The two best teams in the West face off on Christmas in what is probably the best matchup of the day. The Suns held Stephen Curry to 4-of-21 shooting in the first meeting and came away with a huge win. Three days later, the Warriors evened the series in San Francisco with Devin Booker out for the Suns.
This game means a lot. The winner will have secured at least a split of head-to-head tiebreaker which could wind up deciding the No.1 seed in the Western Conference and homecourt throughout the playoffs.
COVID will impact this game like it will all the Christmas Day games, but this one, as of of this writing, looks to be less impacted.
Let’s break down the best matchup in your stocking on Christmas.
Lack of Depth Could Hinder Warriors
Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, and Andrew Wiggins are out — as of this writing — with COVID protocols.
Poole is honestly the bigger loss. While Wiggins has the best on-court Net Rating of the three, Poole provides a ball handler who can score on his own and set the offense. He helps as a secondary playmaker next to Curry if teams double him, and provides shot creation on the second unit.
Defensively, Wiggins will be missed. His offense can come and go, but his defense is valuable for defending bigger wings and helping with the Warriors switch.
Andre Iguodala has missed the last few games with injury, and is day-to-day for this game. If both he and Wiggins are out, the Warriors are shorthanded on the wing vs. a team that is probably the most loaded with long, athletic wings who can shoot, dribble, and defend.
These absences cumulatively have to be worth between 1.5 and 2 points to the spread if they all are out.
One of the fascinating things about this matchup is that both teams have the same profile. Both play switching defense at a high percentage of the time, and both excel in facing it. The Warriors switch the ninth-most per 100 possessions and the Suns 11th-most via Second Spectrum data provided to Action Network.
The Suns drop in pick-and-roll more, but that’s not a sustainable strategy when facing Curry. Expect Mikal Bridges to shadow Curry as he did in the first matchup. You should also expect Curry to shoot better than 4-of-21 and be able to generate more havoc. That game was the Warriors’ third-worst offensive rating of the season.
Even without Poole, the Warriors have enough with Draymond Green alongside Curry and the other Warriors to win the game. However, the Suns’ ability to blanket Curry, especially with their defense when Curry tries to relocate, is significant.
Defensively, Golden State did fine in the first matchup. Phoenix’s 108 Offensive Rating wasn’t a good defensive performance, but was built off how many misses the Warriors had. In the second contest a few days later (without Booker), Golden State put up a 116 offensive rating and subsequently held the Suns to just 96 points per 100 possessions.
The Warriors at full strength are even with the Suns in almost every capacity, but they’re likely not at full strength.
Suns Dominate Consistently
The Suns have been the most consistently great team in the league this season: Never too high, never too low. The Suns are just 17-14 ATS despite their lofty record, an indicator that they aren’t destroying teams, just winning consistently.
Phoenix is without Dario Saric, Abdel Nader, and Frank Kaminsky, so their most important rotation players (outside of Saric who is out for the season) are good to go as of now. They haven’t had any significant COVID absences (knock on wood) either.
Maybe the biggest advantage the Suns have is just that: they’re big. JaVale McGee is having what is probably the best season of his career, and Deandre Ayton is a beast.
If the Suns can pressure the Warriors with put-backs and scoring at the rim, that gives a significant advantage in punishing the Warriors’ switching style.
In the first matchup where the Suns won, the difference-maker was Chris Paul just absolutely demolishing the switch from the Warriors over and over. Those are low percentage shots that Paul can hit at a high rate. The Warriors don’t have an opposing wing (especially without Wiggins and Iguodala) who can hang with Paul.
With Booker back, that only increases the advantage for the Suns.
The Suns have counters for all the things the Warriors do well. Create havoc offensively? The Suns are comfortable switching, even with Ayton. Want to muck up the Suns’ offense with switches? They can punish you with size and Paul is comfortable just nailing midrange after midrange shot.
There is also a slight motivational edge: Paul goes 100 mph against everyone, but he’s always held a particular dark place in his heart (based on his body language and performances) against this Warriors team that thwarted his two best chances at a title in Los Angeles and Houston before last season’s Finals run.
If the Warriors’ players are cleared from protocol and play, there’s value on the Warriors with this number having swelled from open at Suns -4.5 to Suns -6. But you’ll have to get it immediately by stalking our Action Labs markets page beating the books to the change.
If the Warriors’ current list of players who out remains the same, there’s value on the Suns. Homecourt feels significant in this matchup between two evenly matched teams. I have this on neutral court as Warriors as less than a point favorite. Factor in the Warriors’ absences.
Pick: Suns -5.5 (up to -6)