Team Records: Portland (45-25) at Phoenix (38-34)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -1
Refs: Bill Kennedy, Eric Lewis, Scott Twardoski
The Skinny: The Blazers look to build off their escape Wednesday in Utah as they take on a Phoenix team that is fast disappearing from the playoff hunt despite going 5-2 in their last seven games. Although the Suns recently won four in a row, their problem is that the competition around them for the final seed (read: OKC) is doing much better. The Blazers haven’t won in Phoenix since Brandon Roy was on the team.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers broke open a close game with the Suns as they rolled to a 108-87 win at home. Batum led the way with 20 points while both LMA and Rolo had double doubles in the win.
Projected Suns Lineup:
PF-Markieff Morris (Kansas-4th Season)-15.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.3 APG.
SF-Marcus Morris (Kansas-4th Season)-10.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.6 APG.
C-Alex Len (Maryland-2nd Season)-.6.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, .5 APG
SG-PJ Tucker (Texas-4th Season)-9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.6 APG.
PG-Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky-5th Season)-17.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG,6 APG.
Player to Watch-Alex Len (pictured at right)- It wasn’t an easy or successful rookie year for Alex Len. He was hurt a lot, playing only 66 games and not playing very well when he did. This season has been rather different. Len’s PER has gone from a horrible 7.32 to a slightly below average 13.96. He has a good soft touch on his shot and is a good offensive rebounder. His defense, like the rest of his game, is a work in progress and he too often commits silly fouls and is caught out of position. Still, while Len is no star, he is likely to develop into a solid NBA starter for an improving young Suns squad.
Did You Know?: The Suns have lost a league high four games on buzzer beaters this season.
Song of the Day: “Route 66” by Nat King Cole. Just felt like breaking out my favorite songs. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Wesley Matthews (Achilles)
Phoenix: Questionable-PG Brandon Knight (Ankle)
Re-Evaluating Phoenix: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
It may have been the right decision for the Suns to dump Dragic. Lord knows its better to get something rather than nothing but it says something bad about an organization when it can’t convince its best player to stick around with an improving team. The Suns are in rebuilding mode again and although they have a decentish young core, what they did this year is at best a lateral move and is more than likely a step back. Especially given that they gave up the Lakers potential mid lottery pick in another trade. Its going to be another year of looking at ping pong balls in Phoenix, that’s for sure.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Phoenix’s 3 pointers. The Suns won the first time these teams played because every time they needed one, they got a huge 3 pointer, while they didn’t in Portland’s win the second time they played. If the Blazers can limit Phoenix from deep, they should win.
Phoenix wins if: They hold Portland under 100 points. Phoenix is not a very good defensive team, but they can score very well. If they hold the Blazers under 100, they should win.