SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Call it an early holiday gift for basketball fans across the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the next 72 hours, the two hottest teams in the NBA -- the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns -- will be squaring off in back-to-back, home-and-home matchups for early season bragging rights.
The Warriors roll into Phoenix Tuesday with a league-best 18-2 record while the Suns have won 16 straight games and come in at 17-3.
"It's exciting," said Golden State coach Steve Kerr on Monday. "It's great to be in this position, playing a nationally televised game, with two teams that have best records in the league a quarter way through the season...It's good to be back in this position. We haven't been here in a few years."
Over the first 20 games of the season, Kerr said, Golden State has hammered out its identity as a team.
"We're obviously a defensive minded team," he said. "Everything comes off our defense. The offense revolves around Steph (Curry) but we got a lot of good playmakers and shooters around him. The ball moves and the team has taken on a really good identity and has the good sense of itself and it's fun to watch, fun to coach."
When asked about the Suns, Kerr said they have a similar identity.
"They are a great two-way team," he said. "They really defense well. Offensively, Chris Paul is brilliant, Monty (Williams, the Suns coach) has built a system around Chris that makes so much sense."
The Warriors head into the game ranked No. 1 in the NBA in defensive efficiency and No.2 in offensive efficiency. Phoenix, meanwhile, ranks 3rd and 5th, respectively.
A key matchup will revolve around Kevon Looney. Will he play 15 minutes -- an indication the Golden State small ball lineup in successful or with he play 30 minutes -- and indication the Suns bigs -- Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee -- are controlling the inside.
"Phoenix probably puts as much pressure at the rim as anybody considering you are dealing with Ayton and JaVale all game," he said.
Kerr believes the Suns are better than they were last year when they reached the NBA Finals. He says these games will be part of a season-long learning process.
"We'll see how the game is going," Kerr said. "This is not a playoff series so we haven't spent three days going over their stuff, but it will be a good test for both teams and be in a great atmosphere."
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