The red-hot Phoenix Suns will visit the New York Knicks on Black Friday, and there’s no one more excited than Devin Booker.
The Suns’ leading scorer, Booker, is looking forward to playing in one of his favorite arenas– the Madison Square Garden, where he once shot a game-winner in 2017.
Booker has turned the Knicks homecourt into his playground with career averages of 30.1 points on 51.2 percent shooting in six games since entering the NBA in 2015.
“That’s always my first thought. It’s a business trip,” Booker said after his 35-point game Wednesday night in Cleveland. “I’m gonna sit down with some family and friends and enjoy the day, but I’m gonna cut Thanksgiving [Day] a little early and get ready for this one (against New York).”
Last season, Booker torched the Knicks at the Garden with 33 points as he and Chris Paul carried the Suns to a 118-110 victory that snapped New York’s nine-game winning streak. Paul scored Phoenixâ€™s final seven points, which gave the Suns enough cushion to fend off the Knicks’ late push.
New York coach Tom Thibodeau points to Chris Paul’s leadership playing a massive role in Booker’s career, and in turn, helped the Suns to their stirring NBA Finals run last season.
“When you have veterans that have been through the wars when you can couple that with a young star like Booker, I think that’s very beneficial,” Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s practice. “You want your vets to help lead the way with the young guys and it has someone that can still play and has the respect of everyone.
“I think [Chris] is the perfect guy for that when you look at how dynamic their backcourt is with those two. It’s why they have the record that they do.”
The Suns are the hottest team in the league right now, with a 14-game winning streak after a rocky 1-3 start. Meanwhile, the Knicks evened their record at home at 5-5 after a galvanizing 106-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Tuesday.
The Suns have remained steady despite the ongoing investigation on Suns’ governor Robert Sarver on allegations of racism and misogyny.
The Booker-Paul backcourt has a lot to do with that.
Booker takes care of scoring with team-high 23.1 points and 4.8 assists. On the other hand, Paul leads the Suns and the entire league in assists with 10.4 per game and 14.1 points.
Knicks’ third-year wing RJ Barrett will have his hands full against Booker. The Suns’ high-scoring guard holds a career average of 27.7 points on a 48/39/92 split against the Knicks.
One of Leon Rose’s favorite clients when the Knicks president was still an agent, Booker has scored 30-plus points in three of his last four games at the Garden.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo