Game Guide: League-leading Warriors, Suns ready for showdown

Published November 29, 2021, 6:00 PMRenee Ticzon

Mark your calendars as the league’s top two teams, Warriors and Suns, face off on Wednesday (PHT). Also watch out for the battle of Los Angeles teams this weekend.

Are Rockets on the rise?

 Rockets vs. Thunder: Nov. 30, 9:00 AM (PHT) on NBA League Pass

The Houston Rockets aren’t supposed to be good, but they just won back-to-back games after losing 16 of the last 17. The funny thing is they won against the Charlotte Hornets and the Chicago Bulls, who are No. 6 and No. 5 in the East, respectively.

What makes things even more interesting is that the Rockets might be able to sustain this streak. To prove that these were not just “lucky breaks,” they need to claim commanding victories in their next games. 

As luck would have it, they’re scheduled to go up against bottom-ranking teams in the Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, and New Orleans Pelicans. This would be the perfect opportunity to make a statement, or at least avoid being dubbed the worst team in NBA history.

Battle of the Top 2

Warriors vs. Suns: Dec. 1, 11:00 AM (PHT) on NBA League Pass

This is what fans have been waiting for. As if a throwback to the early 2000s, the top 2 teams in the West are the best teams in the league. 

The Golden State Warriors are at the top of the standings with an excellent 17-2 record. Everything is clicking for the Warriors as they rank No. 2 in defense and No. 1 in offense this season. Steph Curry is spewing MVP numbers like he isn’t in his 30s, Draymod Green is defying everything fans know about basketball, and the return of Klay Thompson is just right around the corner. However, even without Thompson, the team is already packing a lot of firepower with Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II, who continue to entertain Warriors fans.

Then you have the Phoenix Suns who just decided to stop losing games. After three losses early in the season, the Suns put the pedal to the metal and are now carrying a 16-game winning streak. They are literally four games away from cracking the top 5 of the league’s all-time longest winning streaks record, all thanks to Phoenix’s dynamic backcourt led by Devin Booker and Chris Paul. These two superstars have unlocked the potential of several rotation players like Mikal Bridges, Cameron Payne, Cameron Johnson, and even the comeback of JaVale McGee.

How many overtimes?

Lakers vs. Kings: Dec. 1, 11:00 AM (PHT) on on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay app

An unlikely matchup needed an extra 15 minutes to finally cap off a 3-hour game. The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to seek revenge after the Sacramento Kings won in triple overtime the last time they met.

It’s as ridiculous as it sounds. LeBron James had two opportunities to call it quits, but it was Buddy Hield’s timely shots that did it for the Kings. De’Aaron Fox led in scoring with 34 points, six rebounds, and eight assists. Hield had 25 points, four rebounds, and six assists.

Russell Westbrook played a ridiculous 51 minutes, and finished with a triple-double of 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. LeBron James had a double-double with 30 points and 11 assists. But it was Malik Monk’s 20 points that got them back within striking distance.

This game will hopefully be a lot shorter than last time. But maybe the teams are just so evenly matched that they need some extra minutes to settle the game.

Smack in the Middle

76ers vs. Celtics: Dec. 2, 8:30 AM (PHT) on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay app

There’s nothing spectacular happening to both the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. In fact, some would argue that both teams are underperforming considering what fans expected from them during the offseason.

The 76ers may have lost All-Star Ben Simmons, but nobody expected their team to drop to this low level of play. Early in the season, Philadelphia looked to be well-adjusted and ready to move on from Simmons. However, the constant battle of Joel Embiid with his injuries exposed a lot of the team’s vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, the Celtics are not performing to their potential right now, and nobody really knows why. Their core stayed relatively intact from last season and they made a few key additions, yet they still aren’t in a better position. It’s confusing because Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are putting up excellent numbers, but it doesn’t translate into wins.

That’s why this game is a crucial turning point for both teams. The 76ers and Celtics can use this game as a takeoff point to either better themselves, or at the very least, their record. Both teams may have struggled with injuries this year, but they need to do more if they want to be competitive.

Who’s the better L.A. team?

Clippers vs. Lakers: Dec. 4, 11:00 AM (PHT) on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay app

When looking at statistics and win-loss records (and the teams they beat), the Clippers would be the obvious choice. Paul George takes command every single game, with Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann backing him up. Ivica Zubac is putting up career-high numbers, and Isaiah Hartenstein had a handful of good games already.

However, LeBron James won’t hand over that honor so quickly. The Lakers are trying to prove themselves. Yes they had issues with their chemistry and maybe even team composition, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a solid team. This is a group of guys who may be past their primes, but they pack a ton of experience. 

The Lakers know what’s at stake against the Clippers, so expect a great battle at Staples Center. If the Lakers are really a playoff team, this is a good chance for them to prove it.