The Phoenix Suns have had the wood over the Golden State Warriors this season, winning all three matchups which included the latest at Footprint Center on December 12.
That meeting might be best remembered for another infamous Draymond Green incident, with the 33-year-old receiving a flagrant two foul for a hit on Suns big man Jusuf Nurkic during the third-quarter.
The respective fortunes of the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns has shifted drastically since their last meeting
Green was indefinitely suspended by the league for his repeated unsportsmanlike act, placing the Warriors into further chaos which at that point had led a 10-13 record. However, Golden State have bounced back from the debacle -- after plunging to a 10-14 record following a loss in Green's first game out, Golden State won five-straight including a big overtime win against the East-leading Boston Celtics.
The winning-streak was snapped in Denver on Christmas Day, but it was a respectable showing where the Warrior younger players stood up and battled against the reigning champions. Unfortunately, superstar Stephen Curry had another routinely poor Christmas Day performance, tallying just 18 points on 7-21 shooting.
While Golden State have breathed life into the their season, Phoenix is quickly tumbling into a disastrous position. Since that win over the Warriors, the Suns have lost five of six and have subsequently fallen below .500 and below their pacific rival in the standings.
Just as concerning for Phoenix is the state of their star players -- Bradley Beal continues to be out in what's been an all too regular case this season, while Kevin Durant and Devin Booker are left clearly frustrated by the team's recent play.
Speaking before the Suns' home Christmas Day loss to the Dallas Mavericks, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Durant's growing frustration so far this season.
""Start with Kevin Durant. You talk to people in Phoenix and around that organization. They can feel the frustration with Durant. Part of that, certainly, is the missed games for Bradley Beal, Wojnarowski said."
Wojnarowski went onto discuss Durant's frustration at the 'underwhelming' supporting cast, with Phoenix having given up much of their assets to acquire both he and Beal. After winning two titles and two Finals MVP's with Golden State, Durant appears a mile off from adding more playoff silverware.
As for Booker, he was heard cracking into teammate Chimezie Metu during the third-quarter against the Mavericks. The star guard was heard saying, "“why aren’t you running back? Just gonna turn the ball over and not run back?”
The shift in respective fortunes for the Warriors and Suns has been quite remarkable since the Green-Nurkic incident, but it also goes to show the ebbs-and-flows of an 82-game NBA season. Can either team lift themselves up from a state of mediocrity?