What: Phoenix Suns host the Toronto Raptors
When: 7:00 p.m. AZ
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona
Listen: 98.7 FM
Suns - Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Dario Saric, Deandre Ayton
Raptors - Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Pascal Siakam
OffRtg = 109.7 (17th), DefRtg = 110.7 (19th), NetRtg = minus-1.0 (15th)
What’s up with this Suns team right now? I know missing Kelly Oubre Jr. is an impactful loss, but it shouldn’t be this bad. Losing to Brandon Knight’s Pistons plus Dragan Bender’s Warriors is a wake up call weekend. Now, we all know what the 2019-20 Suns are.
No, this team is nowhere close to a playoff contender, especially in their current state. There will be no miracle run to the No. 8 seed. Honestly, there’s a better chance this season continues to go off the rails for Phoenix. The schedule won’t open up for another few weeks, so this losing streak could lengthen if nothing improves.
Even though the season has taken a steep downward trend recently, there’s one positive I wanted to note here heading into tonight’s bout with Toronto. Mikal Bridges, the Suns’ former No. 10 overall pick, is starting to figure it out. That should make Suns fans super enthused when looking over his last 12 games.
Bridges is averaging 11.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks while shooting 44.7 percent on 3s during this stretch. Quietly, the former Villanova Wildcat is really starting to ascend with his development. This is the Bridges we saw during his final collegiate season under Jay Wright.
Ayton’s progress is an obvious top option for what to watch the final five weeks, but Bridges regaining his old form and maintaining it is a close second.
OffRtg = 111.2 (T12th), DefRtg = 104.9 (2nd), NetRtg = plus-6.3 (4th)
The defending champions haven’t missed Kawhi Leonard much this season. After Kawhi bolted Toronto for Los Angeles, the Raptors have continued churning along thanks to another leap from Siakam plus solid veteran contributions. Toronto has stayed near the top of the Eastern Conference all season long, and that’s a huge credit to what they’ve built across the border.
Speaking of Siakam, his numbers this year are bonkers. Stepping into the No. 1 role, Siakam is thriving. The lanky big is averaging 23.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1 steal, and 0.9 blocks per game while shooting 36.4 percent on 3s. So far, Siakam is definitely earning his 5-year max extension.
Outside of their main pillar in Siakam, who else in Toronto is expected to be in their long-term plans? Anunoby certainly fits that identity as a switchy wing who’s still developing offensively. Undrafted rookie Terence Davis has also made waves.
Toronto is built to not only win right now with veterans like Lowry, Ibaka and Gasol surrounding Siakam, but there’s a foundation laid for the next chapter as well. That’s a solid blueprint many organizations, including Phoenix, should try to follow from a team building perspective.
It’s anyone’s guess what’s going to happen once tip-off occurs tonight. Will the Suns show up, or will they get run out of their building by Toronto? After a weekend where Phoenix lost to arguably two of the worst teams in the NBA, confidence definitely isn’t high for this outing.
Who’s stopping Siakam and Lowry? If Ayton and Rubio have subpar performances on the defensive end, this will get ugly quick against a talented Raptors roster.
Unfortunately, until I’m proven wrong and that weekend stench of awful losses wears off, it’s hard to trust the Suns. Going against Toronto, a team who is eager to snap their recent skid, this one has all the makings of another blowout defeat.
Raptors 118, Suns 103