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Game Preview: Suns head to Portland looking to get back on track

A shorthanded Phoenix squad will try to get things back on track in Oregon.

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (21-5) @ Portland Trail Blazers (11-16)

When: Monday, 8:30 PM

Where: Moda Center — Portland, Oregon

Watch: TNT, Bally Sports

Listen: 98.7 FM


The Suns have met up with the Blazers in the second of a back-to-back earlier in the year, and it did not go well for Phoenix. In the rematch, the Suns took care of business with a 119-109 win led by Frank Kaminsky’s career-high 31 points. We are now set for Round 3.

The Blazers have lost 5 straight games but just got their star guard Damian Lillard back from injury, though he doesn’t look to be at 100 percent just yet. Both teams are shorthanded and banged up, so it could get ugly.

Related: Five Burning Questions on Suns and Blazers

The Starting Lineups

Phoenix

  • Chris Paul
  • Landry Shamet (still filling in for Devin Booker)
  • Mikal Bridges
  • Jae Crowder
  • JaVale McGee (still filling in for Deandre Ayton)

Blazers

  • Damian Lillard
  • Norman Powell (filling in for CJ McCollum)
  • Nassir Little
  • Larry Nance Jr.
  • Jusuf Nurkic

Portland recently promoted Larry Nance Jr. to their starting lineup in for the struggling Robert Covington.

Injury Report

Phoenix

  • Devin Booker — OUT
  • Abdel Nader — OUT
  • Frank Kaminsky — OUT
  • Deandre Ayton — DTD (Questionable)
  • Jalen Smith — DTD (Questionable)
  • Dario Saric — OUT

Portland

  • CJ McCollum — OUT
  • Cody Zeller — OUT
  • Greg Brown III — OUT

We will await the status updates on Suns’ big men Deandre Ayton and Jalen Smith who were out with a non-COVID illness. If either of them are able to play it helps a ton, especially Ayton of course.


Suns Notes

The status of the sick bigs (non-COVID illness) is still up in the air, and if both of them are out again the depth chart is extremely thin. Their bench mob is led by Payne, Payton, and Johnson with Wainright serving as the ninth man and Hutchison as their only other available player.

As poorly as Portland has been playing, they have depth on their side and catch the Suns on the second of a back-to-back in the comfort of their own home.

The key for Phoenix (outside of keeping Dame at bay) will be slowing down Norman Powell, who has scored 70 points on just 58 shots in his last three games. Offensively, the Suns need an aggressive Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson from the start. Portland’s perimeter defense (and defense in general) is a major weak point, so they must take advantage.

Blazers Notes

Portland is without CJ McCollum, who will be away from the team as he deals with a collapsed lung. They are also down big man Cody Zeller and have shifted their starting lineup as noted above.

Portland will likely hope to push the pace, get the Suns in foul trouble and take advantage of the situation that’s in front of them in hopes of snapping that 5-game losing streak. You don't want to be the team to give Dame confidence, so hopefully Mikal and co. do a decent job of containing him.

Prediction

If Ayton goes, Suns win 110-103.

If Ayton is out, Blazers win in a close one.