When the Golden State Warriors take on the Kevin Durant-less Phoenix Suns on Monday night, they will avoid an opponent’s superstar for the third time in a row.
The Warriors have won seven straight games at home, including a 125-116 overtime thriller on Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, who were without their star player Giannis Antetokounmpo because of a sore right hand.
The difference-maker in the victory was Stephen Curry. He scored 11 points in the final 1:51 of regulation to send the game into overtime, and he scored nine more in five minutes of overtime to help the Warriors defeat the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the fact that the Grizzlies were without Ja Morant, who was out while the NBA looked into a gun incident, the Warriors had lost their previous game, 131-110, to Memphis on Thursday.
Durant, who was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets at the February trade deadline, injured his left ankle during warmups for the Suns’ home opener on Wednesday.
Due to a pre-existing knee injury, he missed his first six Suns games. However, earlier this month, he helped Phoenix win three straight on the road, averaging 26.7 points.
Durant, who won two championships in three seasons with Golden State, also missed a January trip to San Francisco with the Nets because of a knee injury.
The Suns defeated Oklahoma City for the fourth time in a row before losing 128-119 to the visiting Sacramento Kings on Saturday night, despite witnessing Durant limp off the court prior to the game.
They will now play the Warriors and Bucks in consecutive games on Tuesday, with Milwaukee traveling to Phoenix.
Monty Williams, the Suns’ coach, walked away from the high-scoring loss to the Kings sounding a lot like Steve Kerr, the coach of Golden State, after his veteran team’s recent string of poor efforts on the road.
Monday should be a big day for both teams. The Warriors are just two and a half games behind the Suns, who are in fourth place in the West and have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Phoenix has already won the season series, defeating the Warriors by 29 and 11 points at home and 125-113 in San Francisco.
However, that was prior to Durant’s arrival, when defensive end Mikal Bridges was present to harass Curry. Curry has been held to 24 or fewer points in eight of his last 11 games against Phoenix.
Bridges was part of the package that was needed to get Durant away from the Nets, so he won’t be around to challenge Curry this time.
Curry, who will be 35 on Tuesday, may require a break. In the overtime victory, he played a season-high 43 minutes, and ESPN asked him after the game, “You look tired. Are you alright?
Curry scored 36 points for Golden State, ending a three-game losing streak.