When the Phoenix Suns visit the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night and put their 15-winning game streak on the line, the narrative will be it is a measuring stick game for two teams at or near the top of their respective conferences.
If the contest is a measuring stick, it is hardly on the mind of both teams, who view the contest as another night on the schedule and a chance to get better.
Phoenix's winning streak is its second-longest in team history and the longest since a team-record 17-game run in 2006-07 when Brooklyn coach Steve Nash teamed up with current Nets assistant Amar'e Stoudemire on a 61-win team. That team also won 15 in a row highlighted by a 161-157 double-overtime thriller against the Nets in East Rutherford, N.J.
During this streak, the Suns are averaging 114.3 points. On Friday, Phoenix notched its seventh double-digit win of the streak when it cruised to a 118-97 rout of the New York Knicks for its seventh straight road win.
Besides facing the Nets, the Suns will also face Golden State twice next week.
"There are teams that have marquee players on their roster, and I'm sure our guys look at that, but for us, we're just focused on the next right thing," Phoenix coach Monty Williams said.
The right thing for Phoenix will be a continuation of its visit to the Knicks when Devin Booker scored 32 points to lead an offense that shot a season-high 55.7 percent and placed seven in double figures. Chris Paul added 14 and 10 assists while DeAndre Ayton collected 14 and 13 boards.
"We do one at a time," Booker said. "We know we have a tough opponent tomorrow that's well-rested."
During the streak, Booker is averaging 24.1 points. Paul has seven double-doubles and Ayton has six double-doubles, including four since returning from a right leg contusion.
The Nets head into the possible NBA Finals preview with 14 wins in their first 19 games, and their losses are all against opponents with winning records (Milwaukee, Charlotte, Miami, Chicago and Golden State).
Since losing three of its first five games, Brooklyn is 12-2, and since its 18-point loss to Golden State on Nov. 16, Brooklyn is on a four-game winning streak that featured shaky moments in the first three games before a dominating 123-104 win at Boston on Wednesday.
"We go back home, we've got the Suns who, obviously, we all know how they've been playing," Brooklyn guard James Harden said. "It's going to be another great test for us. But we've got to continue to get better, continue to keep growing, finding things that work, finding things that don't work on both ends and keep pushing."
In Boston, Brooklyn led by as many as 29 points and shot 50.6 percent while placing five in double figures. Patty Mills hit seven of Brooklyn's 14 3-pointers and scored 23 points while Kevin Durant and Harden added 21 and 20 respectively.
The most notable changes to Brooklyn's lineup of late are inserting LaMarcus Aldridge as the starting center in place of a struggling Blake Griffin on Wednesday and giving rookie Cam Thomas more minutes. Aldridge scored 17 points while Thomas added 13 less than a week after getting 46 in a G-League game.
Brooklyn is 10-2 in the past 12 meetings and survived a 36-point showing by Booker in a 128-119 home win on April 25.
--Field Level Media