Suns-Warriors: What to watch for

February 13, 2012, 5:30 pm
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Programming note: Coverage begins at 7 p.m. today with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area with host Greg Papa, Garry St. Jean and NBA Insider Matt Steinmetz.

The Phoenix Suns are currently the 12th-best teamin the Western Conference, and the Warriors are the No. 13 team in the West.Still, both teams have been playing better of late.After a 6-12 start, the Suns have won six of their past nine.The Warriors have won two in a row against Denver and Houston.Here are some things to watch for during the Suns-Warriorsgame on Monday night at Oracle:Play uptempo: These are not the Suns that you might beaccustomed to. They no longer score a lot of points and they no longer look torun at every opportunity even after made baskets.Steve Nash is averaging just 30 minutes per game, and theSuns leading scorer is plodding center Marcin Gortat. In addition to Gortat,the Suns rely heavily on Nash, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley and MichaelRedd.In other words, the faster the pace, the more it willbenefit the Warriors. After all, theyre younger and more athletic than theSuns.Rebound: Rebounding has been an area ofinconsistency for the Warriors, and the Suns are the kind of team that couldmake them pay for that. Among Gortat, Channing Frye, Robin Lopez and MarkieffMorris, the Suns have the ability to dominate the boards.Its up to the Warriors to not allow that to happen.Keep knocking down 3s: Over the past fourgames, the Warriors are shooting 52 percent from beyond the arc (51-for-99). Afair chunk of those makes have been provided by rookie shooting guard KlayThompson, who has made 12 of his past 16 3-pointers.If the Warriors are getting 3-point shots off ofdraw-and-kicks or in transition, thats good news. If the Warriors are getting3-point shots off of the dribble on their own thats not goodnews.Defend Frye: In many ways, Frye cansometimes hold the key to Warriors-Suns games. Hes a 3-point threat so thatmeans that whoever is guarding Frye cannot leave him alone beyond thearc.Early in the game, David Lee will likely get thatassignment. But its difficult to see Warriors coach Mark Jackson settling forthat matchup for an extended period of time.Look for the Warriors to go small playing Lee at center and therefore allow a player like Dominic McGuire (assuming hes healthy) todefend Frye. In other words, it could be a very abbreviated night for Warriorscenter Andris Biedrins, whose minutes are decreasing anyway.