The Suns and Warriors look to close 2008-09 on a high note when the league’s highest-scoring teams meet in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Phoenix (45-36) will miss the playoffs for the first time in five years after a disappointing season in which it traded away two key players, lost All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire to a season-ending eye injury and fired first-year coach Terry Porter after 51 games.
The Suns are the third team in NBA history to win at least 45 games and not earn a trip to the postseason. The Warriors were the last team to do so last season, when they became the first 48-win team to miss the playoffs since the 1971-72 Suns failed to earn a postseason berth with a 49-33 finish.
Golden State (29-52) hasn’t been nearly as competitive in its injury-plagued 2008-09 season. It’ll finish with its worst record since 2001-02.
Though the Suns and Warriors are headed to the draft lottery, there’s a good chance they’ll put on an offensive show in their season finales. Phoenix and Golden State are the NBA’s top scoring teams, averaging 109.3 and 108.5 points, respectively.
The Suns have averaged 127.0 points in taking two of their first three meetings with the Warriors, who have scored 119.7 per game in the series.
The teams’ last matchup was particularly entertaining. Suns guard Jason Richardson scored 31 against his former team, and Shaquille O’Neal added 26 as Phoenix took a 154-130 victory in Oakland on March 15. Matt Barnes, another Suns player that used to play for the Warriors, had 20 points and a career-high 11 assists.
Golden State guard Jamal Crawford, who isn’t expected to play Wednesday because of a strained lower back, wasn’t happy with that defeat, which officially eliminated the Warriors from playoff contention.
“It’s embarrassing to lose like that, to give up that many points,” Crawford said.
The Warriors, though, could have a hard time avoiding a similar defeat with so many players expected to miss the finale due to injury. They had only seven available players for their 101-72 home loss to San Antonio on Monday night.
Injured guard Marco Belinelli has been dressing just to give Golden State the NBA-minimum eight in uniform.
“We’ve been showing a lot of heart the last couple of games, to keep competing with as few players as we had,” said rookie forward Anthony Randolph, who had career highs of 24 points and 16 rebounds against the Spurs.
Despite Randolph’s big game, the Warriors delivered their lowest point total since an 82-72 loss at New Jersey on Jan. 7, 2005.
“We didn’t have much energy,” coach Don Nelson said. “Besides that, we lost our confidence. We missed too many shots, and then they had their way with us. We’ll take our licking and move on.”
The Suns were far more impressive in their 119-110 win over Memphis on Monday night.
“I felt like this was an important game for us to try and find a way to come away with a victory,” coach Alvin Gentry said. “… It was a good win for us, we want to try and close out the season on a positive note.”