Team Records: Portland (31-11) at Phoenix (25-18)
Game Info: 6 PM-TV on KGW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Phoenix -6.5
Refs: Ken Mauer, Sean Corbin, Scott Twardoski
The Skinny: The Blazers look to win despite Aldridge’s absence as they face the Suns, the team that perhaps gave them more trouble than anyone else during last season (at least during the regular season). The Suns have won three straight and seven of their last nine overall. Phoenix has not lost at home since December 15.
Last Season: Phoenix won the season series 3-1, winning the season series for the third team in a row between the two teams.
Projected Suns Lineup:
PF-Markieff Morris (Kansas-4th Season)-15.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2 APG.
SF-PJ Tucker (Texas-4th Season)-7.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.5 APG.
C-Alex Len (Maryland-2nd Season)-.6.3 PPG, 6 RPG, .4 APG
SG-Goran Dragic (Slovenia-7th Season)-17 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.1 APG
PG-Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky-5th Season)-16.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.9 APG.
Player to Watch-Goran Dragic (pictured at right)- Following future hall of famer Steve Nash is a tough task for any player, and it is impossible for him to come close to what Nash did for the Suns. Still, Dragic is no slouch. Dragic is an aggressive attacking point guard who can finish well with his left hand, and draws plenty of fouls to boot. His passing is not great but its improving, and his turnovers are slightly down this season. Dragic is a very good defender as well, being the ideal size defensively for a point guard, he has good instincts and is rarely caught out of position. He may be no Nash but he’s a solid starting PG for the Suns as they look to make a playoff push.
Did You Know?: The Suns are 34-1 in two seasons under Jeff Hornacek when shooting at least 50 percent from the field.
Song of the Day: “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper. A good song from one of Phoenix’s own. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Thumb), C Robin Lopez (Hand), PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder)
I was wrong on Phoenix last year. I had them pegged as one of the worst teams of the league, as did almost everyone else but they ended up falling just short of the last playoff spot out west. It took them a while to find their groove but now that the Suns have found it, watch out. They are one of the top scoring teams in the league, ranking 5th in offense and very difficult to stop when they get rolling because of their abundance of weapons. Their defense is a relative weakness, 17th best in the league but with an offense that good, they usually are able to overcome that. The Suns look to be true playoff contenders this year, whether they will make some noise if they get there is another question.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Lillard goes off big-time. Without LMA, its on Dame’s shoulders to have a monster game. If he can, the Blazers certainly could win.
Phoenix wins if: They play their game. The Suns are a good team, especially at home. If they play as they have as of late, they should win.