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Preview: Suns host Raptors to begin Eastern Conference-heavy portion of their schedule

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Coming off a loss the the Clippers, Phoenix can get back on track against the slow-starting Raptors.

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Toronto Raptors (1-5) at Phoenix Suns (5-2)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Phoenix Suns Arena

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


A loss to the Clippers should hardly be seen as a roadblock for the Suns, who fought back to cut a 31-point lead to four and executed well on both ends for the final three quarters of the game, looking much like the team that won five of its first six games.

Hosting the Raptors, who have started quite slow and are led by a star in Pascal Siakam who seems to still be cursed with a Bubble hangover, the Suns have a chance to get back on track with another W and start an East-heavy part of the schedule on the right foot.


Projected starting lineups

Suns: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton

Raptors: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Aron Baynes


Phoenix Suns

No. 2 in the Western Conference

113.7 ORtg (9th) - 104.4 DRtg (4th) = plus-9.3 netRtg (4th)

Everything comes back to defense for these Suns. That was the message during the couple days off early this week after allowing Paul George to go off for 39 points and the Clippers to build a double-digit lead in the first few minutes of Sunday’s game.

“We want to be the No. 1 defensive team in the league,” Jae Crowder told reporters. “We’ve just been talking about that for the most part these past few days.”

With regard to the shots George made and how the Clippers got started offensively, Crowder said the biggest change that can be made there is for the Suns to make their presence felt earlier and not let opponents get comfortable.

While the Suns will live with a 5-2 start, there have been several nights this season in which teams have started strong in the first quarter and the Suns have had to play from behind. They’ve shown they can do that, but it’s not a great way to be in every game.

Against a Raptors team that is thin and has struggled to make shots, the Suns could be able to make this a low-scoring game.

Toronto Raptors

No. 14 in the Eastern Conference

104.6 ORtg (26th) - 110.4 DRtg (15th) = minus-5.7 netRtg (25th)

The Raptors have been the subject of much national discussion so far, as is the case whenever a consistently great team goes through a cold stretch. While they lost Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol this offseason, it’s not their defense that has struggled, but their offense.

More specifically, their bench scoring. Any time key bench pieces like Stanley Johnson, Matt Thomas or Terence Davis have checked in, the team has fallen off. That, combined with Siakam starting the season scoring an ugly 1.0 point per possession, has spelled trouble.

However, VanVleet went off on Monday night against Boston, scoring 35 on 13-20 shooting and six made threes, which could be the spark Toronto needs. If even two of Siakam, VanVleet, Lowry and Anunoby can turn loose for a few consecutive strong offensive nights, the Raptors can get on track in a hurry. They’re still a talented team.

The Suns just have to hope that doesn’t come against them.


Prediction

Most Suns games have been right in the 100-110 range for both teams outside of a couple blowouts, so it’s just unlikely that trend will change tonight.

However, this is a bad matchup for Toronto and we’re still waiting on that breakout by the Suns’ offense, so I don’t think it will be a particularly close game.

Suns 115, Raptors 100