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Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Preview: Suns head to north of the border to battle the Raptors

The five game road trip for Phoenix begins in Toronto.

What: Phoenix Suns (30-9) @ Toronto Raptors (20-17)

When: 5:30 p.m. AZ Time

Where: Scotiabank Arena

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


It has been a rarity this season for the Phoenix Suns to have more than one day off in between basketball games thus far this season. They have been afforded such rest heading into a five game road trip that begins on Tuesday evening in the city of Toronto. They are heading north of the border to play the seventh seed in the Eastern conference, the Toronto Raptors, in front of an empty arena per Canadian COVID protocols.

The rest comes at a key time for the Phoenix Suns as they are in the process of reinserting Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder into the starting lineup following their absence due to health and safety protocols. Their first game back was a 23-point drubbing at the hands of the en fuego Miami Heat, a team that went 22-of-44 from beyond the arc in their victory over the Suns.

Unfortunately the Phoenix Suns will be without the services of Cameron Johnson who tweaked his ankle in the final minute of that loss against Miami. Many have expressed their disdain for Monty Williams decision to leave Cam Johnson in a game that had no meaning at the point in which he injured his ankle, but it is what it is and the Phoenix Suns will be without the seventh best three-point shooter (.438) in the NBA for their contest against the Raptors.

Toronto enters on a six-game winning streak having defeated the Clippers, Knicks, Spurs, Bucks, Jazz, and Pelicans to do so. They have not lost in the calendar year of 2022 as of yet. Led by sixth-year point guard Fred VanVleet, who is averaging 22 points and 6.7 assists per game (plus 1.6 steals) and shooting 40.9% from deep, the team has the ninth best office of rating in the Association. They are definitely spicy right now and beaming with confidence.

Probable Starting Lineups

Uniform Tracker

https://lockervision.nba.com/

Out/Injured

Phoenix:

  • Dario Saric (knee) is OUT
  • Frank Kaminsky (knee soreness) is OUT
  • Cameron Johnson (ankle) is OUT
  • Ish Wainright (H/S protocol) is OUT
  • Abdel Nader (knee) is DOUBTFUL
  • Landry Shamet (conditioning) is PROBABLE

Raptors:

  • Goran Dragic (personal) is OUT
  • Gary Trent, Jr. (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE
  • Scottie Barnes (knee) is QUESTIONABLE

Keys to a Suns Win

This will be an interesting game for the Phoenix Suns as they will be clearly overmatched at the wing position. Toronto is a team full of athletic wings to include Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft Scottie Barnes. They are not a team that plays with pace as they are currently 26 in the NBA in that category, but they will try to defeat you with their athleticism at the wing position. With Cameron Johnson out, the Phoenix Suns are depleted in this area.

The obvious mismatch for the Phoenix Suns is in the paint as the tallest player on the Raptors is 6 10” DJ Wilson, and he’s only played in 3 games this year. If the Suns can attack the interior, pound paint, and dominate the boards they can win this game. Note that the Raptors are currently 16th in the league in total rebounds (44.9) and last in the league in defensive rebounds (31.8). Conversely, they’re 2nd in the league in offensive rebounds (13.1). The Suns must protect the defensive glass, not allowing Toronto to score second chance points that are ultimately deflating.

Phoenix has done much better on the glass half as of late. They are currently 8th in the entire league in total rebounding (45.9), fifth in defensive rebounding (36.0), and 20th in offensive rebounding (9.9).

So it will be a battle on the boards: will the Raptors be permitted to obtain offensive rebounds at will? Or will Phoenix negate the efforts of the team who scored the second most second-chance points in the league (16.8)? Whoever wins the battle on that side of the glass wins the game.

Prediction

The Suns will start this road trip off right. Although they are mismatched at the wing position, they have the dynamic backcourt duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker who will navigate clutch time like the professionals they are. This will come down to the clutch minutes, but the Suns will prevail.

Suns 107, Raptors 102

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