The Suns, the NBA’s hottest team, are here.
Building their breakout run to the NBA Finals last season, the Suns ride to Madison Square Garden on Friday night with a 14-game winning streak and the league’s second-best record at 15-3.
Veteran point guard Chris Paul leads the NBA in 10.4 assists per game, including a dozen dimes in his 17th season at Cleveland in Wednesday’s win over Phoenix.
“It’s just incredible,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said this week when asked about the 36-year-old Paul. “I think he’s always been a good player. His career speaks for itself. He had injuries, but the way he looks after his body and the way he navigated it and he’s healthy, I think you’ll see what his leadership has done for that team. Have brought out.
Two-time All-Star Devin Booker scored 35 points on 14 of 21 shooting for the Suns in the 120-115 win over the Cavaliers, leading Phoenix to 23.1 points per game. No. 1 in 2018 DeAndre Ayton, a 1-overall pick, has a double-double average with 16.0 points and 11.8 rebounds per performance.
“When you have veterans through wars, when you pair it with a young star like Booker, I think it’s very beneficial,” Thibodeau said. “You want your vet to help lead the way with young guys.
“And it still has to be playable and respected by all. I feel it [Paul] The perfect guy for it. You see how dynamic their backcourt is with those two. That’s why they have a record that they do.
The Knicks (10-8) are listed as questionable after Michelle Robinson (concussion), Derrick Rose (ankle) and Taj Gibson (groin) lost Tuesday’s home win over the Lakers, who played without LeBron James. Thibodeau’s team will play in Atlanta on Saturday night as part of an expansion of top opponents, which includes the Nets, Bulls and Nuggets next week.
“You want to build consistency in terms of how you prepare for each match, and get to know your opponent better, and know what happens to the win,” Thibodeau said. “We have to go out and execute, you have to play for 48 minutes. … We need to make sure we’re ready to get there and you have to do it as a team.
Asked in what areas he believes the Knicks should “tighten up” their game before facing the sun, Thibodeau said: “Every area has to be honest with you. So it starts in transition and then is a pick and roll game.
Phoenix holds the league record of 7-1 on the road, but the Knicks have won only half of their 10 games at Garden, including two losses to the team with the worst overall record in the Eastern Conference (4-15).
“You can’t overlook any of their players,” Thibodeau said of the Suns, who were coached by former Nick Monty Williams. “[Mikal] Bridges is a really good player, Ayton has played really well, played well off the bench. [Jae] Crowder is a person you cannot ignore. That team is really well put together. Their bench is amazing. He’s getting a lot [JaVale] McGee? And they are very balanced.