Golden State Warriors' resurgence faces major test as veteran prepares for return

Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Golden State Warriors have gathered some serious momentum, closing out their five-game road-trip with back-to-back blowout wins against the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers.

They finished the road-trip with a 4-1 record, are 5-1 in their last six, and 6-3 in nine games since the tragic passing of assistant coach Dejan Milojević. That record could have been a lot better, having suffered a pair of one-point defeats and a third in an overtime loss in Atlanta.

The Golden State Warriors' recent form will be put to the test when Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns visit Chase Center on Saturday

The Warriors have been the equal-best team in the league across the last nine games, possessing a 10.6 net rating that ties the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers. Jonathan Kuminga's emergence has lifted Golden State to the third-best offense over this period, while Draymond Green's returned has catapulted a once worst defense to fifth.

Despite their good form, the Warriors still have an immense amount of work to do. They remain one game below .500 and are still looking in from outside of the Play-In Tournament. Saturday night presents as a major opportunity to announce their resurgence to the rest of the NBA, with Golden State preparing to host the championship-contending Phoenix Suns.

After a spate of injuries that's added further pressure on their season, the Warriors seem to be getting healthy at just the right time. After a 16-game absence, Gary Payton II is officially off the injury report and available for the first time since January 2.

Gary Payton II, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Payton's return comes at a good time -- while Golden State have ranked third with a 122.6 offensive rating over the last nine games, the Suns have ranked second only behind the Atlanta Hawks.

How much Steve Kerr leans on Payton to guard the likes of Devin Booker and Bradley Beal will be interesting, particularly given the 31-year-old has played just twice and for a total of less than 20 minutes over the last 31 games.

The Warriors' defense has been impressive over their three-straight wins, but face an even bigger test combatting the likes of Booker, Beal and former franchise star Kevin Durant. After starting the season 14-15, the Suns have been dominant in going 17-6 since.

Chris Paul is now the only Warrior on the injury report, with Beal probable for the Suns and Golden State 2022 championship member Damion Lee still out after knee surgery prior to the season.