(Photo credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Two teams that hope to have beefed-up supporting casts square off Saturday night when the Phoenix Suns visit the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
Both teams have won three in a row, but each has even more reason for optimism as they could be getting reinforcements in the clubs' fourth andfinal meeting of the regular season.
Phoenix won the first three matchups, but by just a total of 15 points as the Suns' bench got outscored by a total of 72 points.
The Suns hope they have addressed their depth issue with the additions of Royce O'Neale and David Roddy from the Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.
Interestingly, the Warriors might be more familiar with O'Neale and Roddy than the Suns. O'Neale had 15 points, all on 3-pointers, when the Warriors won at Brooklyn on Monday, while Roddy scored 12 and 16 points in two meetings with Golden State this season.
Even before seeing either in a Suns uniform, Phoenix coach Frank Vogel applauded team owner Mat Ishbia for addressing the team's needs.
"I love that Mat Ishbia's willing to spend even more and do whatever it takes to give us the best chance to win an NBA championship," Vogel said. "I mean, he's just all-in on that."
Neither newcomer was cleared to play when the Suns got just 25 points from their reserves in a 129-115 home win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday. Kevin Durant (31) and Bradley Beal (30) combined for 61 points, while Devin Booker rested a sore hip.
Booker, who has averaged 29.7 points in the three wins over Golden State, has been listed as day-to-day and could return to face the Warriors.
Golden State ended its five-game trip with a 131-109 blowout of the Indiana Pacers on Thursday. The Warriors won their third straight despite resting Klay Thompson.
Thompson, who contributed 18 points to a win at Philadelphia the night before, is expected to return to face the Suns. Gary Payton II, who has missed the past 16 games with a strained hamstring, might also return.
The Warriors also got Moses Moody back from a calf injury during the 4-1 trip, and are encouraged by Chris Paul's recovery from a broken left hand. The veteran is expected back shortly after the All-Star break.
In the absence of Payton, Paul and, at times, Moody and Thompson, Lester Quinones and Gui Santos rose from the end of the Golden State bench to provide invaluable contributions.
Quinones, who had totaled just 27 points previously this season, produced 10-, 17- and 13-point games on the trip. Meanwhile, Santos, a rookie who had played even less (a combined 35 minutes), played 21 minutes against Indiana and scored a season-high 13 points.
Santos said he's learning how to play alongside superstar Stephen Curry, who hit 11 3-pointers against the Pacers.
"I'm always looking to get him open," the Brazilian said after the win in Indianapolis. "He has, like, a gravity (to) him. Where he's at, everybody is looking at him: 'Don't let him shoot.' So when I set the screen and everybody goes to him, I'm going to be wide open. Today, I made two (3-pointers), and that made me feel good"
--Field Level Media