What: Phoenix Suns (24-11) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (21-14)
When: 8:00 p.m. MST
Where: Moda Center— Portland, Oregon.
Watch: Fox Sports Arizona, NBA League Pass
Listen: 98.7 FM
Fasten your seatbelts, Suns fans. The second half of the season is here, and it will wait for no one, as the NBA plans on fitting quite a bit of games in a very short period of time.
Phoenix will play 37 games in 66 days before the NBA Playoffs begin in late May.
The major discussion that is ongoing is the health status of Devin Booker after he missed the All-Star Game due to a knee injury he suffered against the Warriors. With the way he’s played against the Blazers of late they’re going to hope he’s good to go.
James Jones said he was “fine” on Burns and Gambo yesterday, so we shall see.
Each team is entering the 2nd half of the season on a winning streak. The Suns have rattled off 4 straight while Portland has won their last 3.
If Booker isn’t able to go, look for a platoon of Cam Payne, E’Twaun Moore, and Abdel Nader to pick up those minutes. Chris Paul will also have to enter aggressive scorer mode rather than focusing solely on distributing.
We saw the Suns pull out a win against the Lakers after the Booker ejection and they’ve won a couple of games without him this season already, so it’s not the end of the world if he needs to rest up another game or two for the stretch run, though this game is fairly important in the playoff race.
Phoenix: Devin Booker— (knee, questionable), Cameron Johnson— (health protocols, OUT).
Portland: Harry Giles— (calf, OUT).
PHX: Chris Paul—Devin Booker—Mikal Bridges—Jae Crowder—Deandre Ayton
POR: Damian Lillard—Gary Trent Jr.—Derrick Jones Jr.—Robert Covington—Enes Kanter
Key to the Game
- No Dame Time
This is the major key towards playing this depleted Portland team. They may not have a ton of depth with CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic both out, but they hang around and strike in clutch time to scrap out wins.
Gary Trent Jr. has been a difference-maker for them, and the cast of role players such as Robert Covington, the reinvented Carmelo Anthony, and Derrick Jones Jr. isn’t the most thrilling set of support players, but best believe they’ll fight and scrap.
This key to the game is of course is predicated by Damian Lillard’s insane numbers in the “clutch” minutes of the game.
Lillard goes to a different level when it’s Dame Time this season.— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 4, 2021
⌚️ 61.4 FG%
⌚️ 60.0 3P%
⌚️ 100 FT% pic.twitter.com/ghcVzndOIb
Whatever you do, do not let Portland hang around. They did an excellent job of this in the first meeting when Paul and Booker got to rest for the entire 4th quarter in a blowout win. Stepping on their throats and not giving them any hope or life is easier said than done, and it’s an obvious point to make, but you simply do not want to give Dame even the slightest bit of life.
Speaking of that, here’s what Devin Booker did to the Blazers last time these two teams played.
Suns shake off some rust and fight off the Blazers in a sloppy win. 114-111.