Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
When: 4:00PM, Arizona Time
Watch: Fox Sports AZ, NBA League Pass
The Phoenix Suns have a chance to snap a couple of 4 game streaks tonight against the Toronto Raptors: their own 4 game losing skid and the Raps' hot stretch of 4 wins in a row.
The Raptors' most recent win came yesterday against the Washington Wizards on this Cory Joseph buzzer beater:
Toronto currently leads the Atlantic Division with a record of 11-6, behind the play of (tell me if this sounds familiar) a very strong backcourt. Guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan lead the team in scoring, with both averaging over 20 points per game. Their offensive prowess isn't limited to guard play. Five players average double figures, and Cory Joseph comes up just shy at 9.4 points per game.
Like the Phoenix Suns used to be, the Raptors are a top 10 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Raptors play a much slower brand of ball than Phoenix. Look for the Suns to push the pace and take advantage of some tire legs as Toronto is on the second game of a back-to-back today.
As for Phoenix, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight will have their hands full with Toronto's talented backcourt. Of course, that goes both ways, and I expect that this game will come down to what each team's supporting cast can bring to the table. In all likelihood, both teams will be without their starting centers. For the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas is out with a broken hand, while Tyson Chandler is listed as doubtful with the hamstring injury he suffered against Golden State two nights ago. Alex Len will be busy checking Bismack Biyombo on the glass where he is averaging 14 rebounds per game as a starter.
On paper, this should probably be loss number 5 in a row for Phoenix. The Suns defense has been an Achilles heel over their four game losing streak and this Raptors team knows how to score. But, this is something of a gut check for Phoenix and an occasion I hope they rise to. Jeff Hornacek and company have to be hungry for a W, particularly after losing a pair of winnable games to the New Orleans Pelicans and getting blown off the court by the Golden State Warriors. They should come into Air Canada Centre with bounce in their steps and a chips on their shoulders.
A win tonight would also be an auspicious start to the Suns' longest road trip of the season. After tonight, they play 5 more away games, with match-ups against the Nets, Pistons, Wizards, Grizzlies and Bulls looming.
I'm going homerlicious with my prediction: 100-96, Phoenix Suns.