Golden State v Phoenix
Now that the dust has settled after a frenetic opening spell of the NBA season, the two biggest surprises can no longer be considered an anomaly. And while the Portland Trail Blazers have rightly garnered the plaudits – and the attention – the Phoenix Suns have kept up their shock charge back from last place in the West in 2013 to the thick of the playoff battle.
With a rookie coach in Jeff Hornacek and a ragtag bunch of cast-offs and no-names, the Suns' rise is even more of an unexpected twist than Portland’s. However they have the league’s eighth’s most effective offense (103.4 points per 100 possessions) while proving a handful in limiting opponents from three-point range.
That should make it an intriguing match-up on Friday when they travel to a Golden State Warriors team with a similar offensive and defensive output, as both look to extend their current three-game winning streaks.
In the last meeting between the sides, the Suns stole a 106-102 victory with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic completely out-playing Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Phoenix, even on the road, can keep this one another tight battle. And even if the Warriors take some revenge, the Suns look capable of maintaining their ascent.
New York v Toronto
There’s a reunion at Madison Square Garden when the former number one pick of the Toronto Raptors, Andrea Bargnani, faces his old team when they visit the New York Knicks.
The Italian has done little to enhance his reputation as an under-achiever since his move south last summer but is part of the league’s most dysfunctional crew. If Carmelo Anthony sits out again, the Raptors should take full advantage. Should he return from injury, New York remain capable of self-destruction.
Best bet: Take Phoenix on the handicap against Golden State.
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