When: 7:00 PM AZ Time
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
When Devin Booker went down with his left adductor strain against these Toronto Raptors, the timetable was announced to be two to three weeks, which on the precautious side was 10 games, we expected some bad basketball. Even though we are only three games through that stretch, it feels like a lot more with the recent play and stagnant offense due to their lack of spacing.
Now, Phoenix marches through their next six which starts off against one of the Eastern Conference’s strongest rosters. In terms of scoring punch and overall depth, Toronto is up there alongside Cleveland and Boston for conference supremacy.
In terms of matchups, it will be very interesting to see how the Suns defend Toronto’s backcourt duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. With that being said, let's talk about those Raptors.
Suns - Tyler Ulis, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss, Tyson Chandler
Raptors - Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
OffRtg: 110.3 (4th); DefRtg: 102.8 (6th); NetRtg: 7.5 (3rd)
When looking at Toronto’s roster, it’s hard not to like it’s overall potential long-term if LeBron James bolts to the Western Conference this summer. Not only is their starting lineup well-rounded, but the second unit is also one of the league’s best.
Three players for the Raptors that should be highlighted are Lowry, DeRozan, and Anunoby.
The Lowry-DeRozan duo has been dynamic since they were brought together, but especially this season as Toronto has embraced the pace and space game. DeRozan has taken on a lot more playmaking duties, too.
Lowry: 16.4 points, 7.0 assists, 6.4 rebounds, 19.29 PER
DeRozan: 23.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 22.05 PER
When looking at this backcourt matchup, I have a hard time seeing how Ulis and Jackson will be able to contain them and keep up offensively. Toronto is one of the better all-around teams this season on both ends, so it will be a big-time test for these young Suns.
A rookie who was taken after Jackson, Anunoby at No. 23 overall who slid due to a knee injury, has shined when given an extended role. I had Anunoby ranked No. 6 on my big board due to his immense two-way potential with a gigantic wingspan of 7-2 for a wing. If he is able to find a consistent offensive attack, watch out because he definitely could blossom into a Kawhi Leonard type of talent down the line in my opinion.
Spread out across the board, Toronto has a pretty large lead in terms of efficiency and talent so it will be interesting to see if Phoenix can keep this close.
OffRtg: 102.0 (25th); DefRtg: 109.3 (30th); NetRtg: -7.3 (28th)
After Tuesday’s 99-92 loss at Sacramento, it’s becoming rather apparent the offense is abysmal without Devin Booker which shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise. If Booker was playing in the first place, it’s fair to say the Suns would be sitting at four wins in their last instead of facing possibly 10 losses in their last 12 games.
Jackson has yet to step up in Booker’s absence, and hopefully, over the next two weeks, he’s able to break out of his current slump. His shooting numbers this season are absolutely abysmal by the way posting shooting splits of 38-24-55.
For a wing, quite frankly, that’s awful.
Two other players that should be highlighted outside of T.J. Warren carrying the scoring load as the No. 1 option are their two 2016 top eight selections in Chriss and Bender.
Against the Kings, both of them actually posted good numbers. Bender had 8 points and 7 rebounds while Chriss collected 7 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 22 minutes. Going up against long-limbed wings/bigs in Anunoby and Ibaka, it will be interesting to see how they combat them. Last time out, it didn’t go well at all in at the Air Canada Centre.
All three of these prospects general manager Ryan McDonough drafted over the past two seasons will decide his future over the next 18 months. If only one or none of them develop, that won’t be a great look in failing to capitalize on their high draft picks during this rebuild attempt.
Simply put, they have their one franchise pillar in Booker but whether it’s through the draft or via trade, McDonough and Co. will need to hit a home run this summer to capitalize on their current opportunity for long-term success alongside his other haul of current players.
This is my first time throwing out a prediction, so we’ll see how this goes but I have to imagine this will be a tough task for the Suns going against this Raptors squad. Toronto ranks in the top six in both offensive and defensive ratings while Phoenix is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
That should tell you most of the story about where both teams are at the moment.
Until they do it without Booker, I have to openly ask if Phoenix will break 100 points without him. Until they are able to do so, this multi-game stretch without him will be rough.
Raptors 111, Suns 95