While trying to maintain their slight edge for sixth place in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors look to accomplish something they haven’t in 36 years.
The Warriors will try to continue building momentum heading into the postseason and sweep the season series from the reeling Phoenix Suns on Friday night for the first time since the 1976-77 season.
Golden State (43-32) heads into Phoenix four games in front of the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers and 4 1/2 games ahead of Utah in the West. Any combination of three Warriors wins or losses by the Jazz would clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2007.
The Warriors wrapped up a five-game homestand with their eighth win in 11 games, beating New Orleans 98-88 on Wednesday.
Golden State owns a one-game advantage over Houston for the sixth spot in the West, but the Rockets own the tiebreaker after going 3-1 against the Warriors. A seventh-place finish would likely mean a first-round date with defending conference champion Oklahoma City.
“The big thing for us,” said forward David Lee who had 23 points and 16 rebounds on Wednesday, “is continuing to compete.”
Golden State shouldn’t have much trouble doing that against a Phoenix team that dropped its seventh straight on Wednesday, 126-101 to the Los Angeles Clippers.
A win would give the Warriors just their second season sweep of the Suns (23-52) in their 44-year history.
Golden State won the two meetings in Oakland by a combined 30 points, but needed Carl Landry’s 12 fourth-quarter points to sneak past the Suns, 87-85, in the season opener in Phoenix.
Stephen Curry the Warriors’ leading scorer at 22.6 points per game, finished with five on 2-of-14 shooting in the opener and has averaged just 8.0 points while missing 20 of 29 shots in his last three games in Phoenix.
Curry, though, is playing well heading into this contest, scoring 27.4 per game and making 37 of 78 (47.4 percent) from 3-point range over his last eight overall.
Klay Thompson has averaged a team-best 20.3 points against the Suns this season, but hopes to break out of a 6 for 30 shooting slump over his last three games.
The Warriors scored 110.5 per game and hit 19 of 39 (48.7 percent) from beyond the arc in the last two meetings.
They should be able to maintain that efficiency against Phoenix, which has given up an average of 112.8 points over its last six games and allows the highest 3-point shooting percentage in the NBA at 39.4.
The Pacific Division-worst Suns, who have lost 13 of 15 overall, have also dropped five straight at home.
“We’re not going to make the playoffs, so (we’ll) just try to compete until the end of the season,” said point guard Goran Dragic who has averaged 17.0 points and 8.2 assists in his last five games versus Golden State.
Guard Wes Johnson appears to be making the most of his opportunity, scoring 17.6 points per game while sinking 17 of 34 from 3-point range in his last five starts.
While the Suns have averaged 102.7 points - 8.1 above their season average - over their last three games, they’ve put up just 92.0 per game in this season series.
The Warriors have won five straight over the Suns, including the last two in Phoenix.