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Game Preview: Devin Booker leads Suns against the Raptors and their mascot

Can the Suns extend their winning streak to eight games?

Toronto Raptors take on the Phoenix Suns Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (11-6) @ Toronto Raptors (8-10)

When: 5:30pm AZ Time

Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario

Watch: Arizona’s Family 3TV

Listen: ESPN 620


Remember the 2021-22 season? Following the Suns’ magical run to the NBA Finals, arenas were filling up once again post-COVID. All arenas but Scotiabank in Toronto, Canada.

In a fan-less arena, the score was close late as Devin Booker stepped to the free throw line. No fans do not mean no distractions, and in that moment Book made a new enemy. The mascot for the Toronto Raptors, known simply as “The Raptor”, was doing his best to distract Devin as he shot the free throws.

A timeout was called, and the mascot was told to move. Booker knocked down the free throws and the Suns won. It was a fun and facetious moment and have since made amends.

Here we are, nearly two years later, and fans once again fill the stands. No matter what antics The Raptor throws at Booker, it will be nearly unnoticeable as the Toronto faithful will do their best to distract the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week.

The Suns head to Toronto on the final leg of a three-city road trip, having made stops in Memphis and New York City along the way. They left both of those cities with wins in their pocket. A win on Wednesday would push their streak to 8 games, the most wins they’ve put together since they won nine consecutive games between March 13 - March 30 in 2022.

The Raptors are on a two-game losing streak following a loss to Mikal Bridges and the Nets on Tuesday.

Starting Lineups

Injury Report

Phoenix:

  • Grayson Allen - QUESTIONABLE (Illness)
  • Kevin Durant - QUESTIONABLE (Right Foot Contusion)
  • Nassir Little - OUT (Personal)
  • Bradley Beal - OUT (Low Back Strain)
  • Damion Lee - OUT (Right Meniscus Surgery)

Toronto:

  • Christian Koloko OUT (respiratory)

Uniform Matchup

Courtesy of NBA LockerVision:

What to Watch For

Toronto is a team that possesses a net rating of -1.1, which is 21st in the league. Led in scoring by Pascal Siakam at 19.8 points per game, they are well-rounded offensively. Scotty Barnes (18.9 points), Dennis Schroder (16.6 points), and OG Anunoby (15.1 points) round out their top four scorers. They’re well-rounded offensively and can attack you in multiple ways with ball movement and athleticism. Toronto is fourth currently in assists at 28.1 per night.

With Jakob Poeltl roaming the interior, they are eighth in the league in total rebounds at 45.8. They are a team that likes to attack the interior, although that doesn’t equate necessarily to free throws. This is due to their poor shooting from beyond the arc, they are shooting 34.3% which is 24th in the league on the 16th most three-pointers.

The key matchup in this one is Jusuf Nurkic and Poeltl. The battle on the interior, whether it be for rebounds or banging bodies for points, will be a focal point.

Keys to a Suns Win

Defend the perimeter and protect the ball. They seem like pretty basic aspects of a winning basketball game if you want to win, but it is especially true when playing the Raptors.

As noted above, this is not a team as necessarily a threat from beyond the arc. If you allow them to get hot — which teams can do at home — that could sink the Suns. That with the fact that the Raptors have the ninth most steals in the league this season, and ball security is paramount for Phoenix to continue their winning streak.

Prediction

The Suns’ depth will win out and Booker will remind his buddy The Raptor who his daddy is.

Suns 119, Raptors 111

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