What: Phoenix Suns (2-5) at Portland Trailblazers (4-3)
When: 8 PM AZ time
Where: The Moda Center in Portland, OR.
Watch: Fox Sports AZ and NBA League Pass
Listen: AZ Sports 98.7 FM or KSUN 1400 AM (Spanish broadcast)
The Portland Trailblazers present an interesting foil for the Suns in that they’re not really a foil at all. Few teams in the NBA can match the Suns’ backcourt talent, but a Blazers team led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum certainly counts among that group.
You’re probably familiar with this team; during last week’s World Series Game Seven, you were likely flipping back and forth between an Indians rally and an overtime slugfest between the Suns and Blazers. That game showed exactly what Portland’s tandem of guards is capable of: McCollum and Lillard combined for 51 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, and 40 shot attempts.
Stopping those two will be the Suns’ primary focus going into The Moda Center tonight.
On the other end the resurgence of Devin Booker following his return from a foot injury has given first-week surprise T.J. Warren a partner in crime. Booker has averaged 38.5 points over the past two games, pushing his average to 23.0 for the season and joining Warren on the list of players averaging more than 20 through two weeks.
As is important to note going into every Suns game, pace will be a defining factor tonight. The Suns are up to second in possessions per game at 101.9, just behind the Los Angeles Lakers. The Blazers are just outside the top ten, and feature a similar motion-based, pace-and-space attack to what the Suns have tried to implement this season.
Another defining aspect of tonight’s matchup will be three-point shooting. Despite featuring Devin Booker and Brandon Knight, two players with reputations for high-volume three-point bombing, the Suns rank 27th in three-point attempts per game. The Blazers, on the other hand, rank 6th and average a full nine attempts more per game than the Suns.
While it’s easy to compare the Suns’ offense to the Blazers’ because of the transition of Assistant Coach Jay Triano over the offseason, that statistic is precisely where those similarities end. The Blazers benefit from shooting as both a fall-back scoring option and a defense-bending space creator. The only way for a team like the Suns to beat them is in a high-scoring shootout like last week’s game.
Win number three will be hard to come by.
PG: Eric Bledsoe vs. Damian Lillard
SG: Devin Booker vs. C.J. McCollum
SF: T.J. Warren vs. Maurice Harkless
PF: Jared Dudley vs. Al-Farouq Aminu
C: Tyson Chandler vs. Mason Plumlee
The Gospel According to Brendon
Hmm. The Suns scraped by with a win on a last-second tiptoeing heave by Eric Bledsoe six nights ago, but that was in Phoenix. Tonight, with the Blazers at home and on a little roll, having won both of their games since losing to the Suns, they’ll likely find their way into a victory.
Blazers 115- 105
All statistics in this piece provided by Basketball-Reference.
Check in tonight if I’m completely wrong and you want to tell me why!
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