Nash-less Suns host Warriors
A pair of Pacific Division rivals kick off the 2012-13 campaign this evening in the desert, as the Phoenix Suns are set to host the Golden State Warriors at U.S. Airways Center.
Not much is expected from either team this season, especially for the Suns.
Steve Nash took his talents to Tinsel Town to play alongside Kobe Bryant, leaving Goran Dragic in charge of running the point. Some new faces joined the fray in forwards Michael Beasley and Luis Scola.
"It's going to be very important for us to get off to a good start," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "But it would be the same if we had all veteran guys too. It's just important not to dig yourself into a hole early on."
Scola is one of 11 players to average at least 15.0 points and 6.5 boards the last three seasons. He became available when the Houston Rockets amnestied him back in July. Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat are also expected to carry the scoring load for Phoenix.
Phoenix has missed the playoffs in each of the last two years and went 33-33 during the lockout-shortened campaign a year ago.
The Suns have lost each of their last two season openers and are 23-21 all- time on opening night. On a positive note, they are 14-6 in season openers as the host and 31-13 all-time in home openers.
Golden State hasn't reached the playoffs since 2006-07 and hopes this will be the year it can turn it around. However, the Warriors have been pegged to finish near the bottom of the Pacific this season, along with the Suns.
The Warriors will begin their second season under coach Mark Jackson and look to stay injury-free for the majority of the campaign. Center Andrew Bogut hasn't played in almost a year because of an ankle issue and point guard Stephen Curry has dealt with the same problem.
Curry is optimistic the Warriors can prove a lot of skeptics wrong.
"There is a lot of optimism and lots of excitement," Curry told the team's website. "The roster is a little more experienced and we're shaping up well. Once Wednesday starts it's about taking those opportunities that we have in front of us."
Golden State is looking forward to bouncing back with double-double machine David Lee back in the fold. He started 57 games a year ago and registered averages of 20.1 points and 9.6 rebounds. Lee was one of only four players to average 20-plus points and nine-plus rebounds, joining Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love.
The Warriors, who have lost six of their last seven season openers, won two of three matchups with Phoenix a season ago and halted a 13-game slide in the desert last February. Golden State last won a season opener on the road back on Nov. 4, 1994 at San Antonio.
Phoenix is 8-0 all-time against the Warriors in home openers.