Time: 7 pm (Phoenix time)
TV: NBA TV
Radio: 98.7 FM
The Phoenix Suns (0-0) head to Oregon to face the Portland Trail Blazers (0-0) for the first of five preseason games this year. As an added bonus, I’ve gotten to reuse much of my final game preview from last season to this point.
Trail Blazers Update
After making the playoffs as the No. 8 seed last season, the Portland Trail Blazers return most of the same pieces in 2017-18.
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum still lead the Blazers’ potent backcourt attack, and Jusuf Nurkic returns to health for his first full season in the middle for Portland. The biggest loss for the Blazers over the summer was shooting guard Allen Crabbe and his 10.7 points off the bench, but coach Terry Stotts will be looking for increased production from Evan Turner this season to offset that as well as development from rookies Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan.
Points: 18-way tie (0.0)
Rebounds: 18-way tie (0.0)
Assists: 18-way tie (0.0)
The Suns kick off the first official-ish action of the 2017-18 season and will be hoping to get off on the right foot here in preseason.
Despite a rash of significant injuries, the majority of Phoenix’s core will be ready to roll. The well-rested Eric Bledsoe returns to the starting lineup alongside Year 3 Devin Booker, as they look to build upon their individual performances from last season. The well-rested Tyson Chandler returns to action as well, looking to pick up where he left off on the boards. Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender will be sharing time at power forward while T.J. Warren and rookie Josh Jackson vie for the role of starting small forward. The Suns have a ton of questions going into the season; this is where the answers begin to reveal themselves.
Points: 20-way tie (0.0)
Rebounds: 20-way tie (0.0)
Assists: 20-way tie (0.0)
Brandon Knight (Suns): torn left ACL (OUT)
Davon Reed (Suns): torn left meniscus (OUT)
Alan Williams (Suns): torn right meniscus (OUT)
Jared Dudley (Suns): toe surgery (DOUBTFUL)
Noah Vonleh (Blazers): right shoulder strain (OUT)
Shabazz Napier (Blazers): quad injury (OUT)
* It’s preseason. Expect an abundance of caution.
The Suns went 1-3 against the Blazers last season, and neither team is significantly changed this time around. With that said, who knows what to expect from a preseason game? The starters likely won’t play in the fourth quarter, there’ll be plenty of court time for guys trying to make an impression, and there will probably be more turnovers and missed shots than you can shake a stick at. In other words, come watch two teams shake off the rust!
Josh Jackson, Suns
As the No. 4 overall pick in 2017, there are high expectations for Jackson. He showed well for himself in Summer League, but now the real games begin. Can he provide Phoenix with needed defensive toughness on the perimeter? Can he do enough offensively to keep defenders honest? Tune in next week to find out (or just later today).
Zach Collins, Blazers
Acquired by the Blazers in a Draft Night trade, Collins is a prime example of the type of versatile big teams look for nowadays — able to shoot from outside, finish inside, and defend the rim. However, he only averaged 17 minutes per game in his lone college season at Gonzaga, so he needs to prove that what he showed in college wasn’t just an optical illusion.
Deadpoolio’s Neat-o Stat of the Game Preview (brought to you by wikipedia.com)
The five preseason games the Phoenix Suns play this year will be the fewest they have ever played in a non-lockout season.