Team Records: Portland (13-2) at Phoenix (7-7)
Game Info: 6 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -3
Refs: Tony Brothers, JT Orr, Sean Wright
The Skinny: The Blazers look to head into their Thanksgiving mini-break with a 12-game winning streak as they face the Suns for the third time this season, having split the previous two encounters. The Suns have cooled off after a hot start, losing five of their last seven games. Phoenix has only won two games this year against teams with winning records, their opening night win over Portland and a win over the Nuggets a few days after.
Last Time They Met: Lillard glided to the hoop uncontested to give Portland the lead with 6.9 seconds left and the Blazers held on to secure what was, at the time, their fourth straight win.
Projected Suns Lineup:
PF-Channing Frye (Arizona-8th Season)-9.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, .6 APG.
SF-PJ Tucker (Texas-3rd Season)-9.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.8 APG.
C-Miles Plumlee (Duke-2nd Season)-10 PPG, 8.4 RPG, .4 APG
SG-Gerald Green (Gulf Shores Academy (HS)-7th Season)-15 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.5 APG
PG-Goran Dragic (Slovenia-6th Season)-16.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 6.6 APG.
Player to Watch-Miles Plumlee (pictured at right) – Miles Plumlee is the oldest of three Plumlee brothers (Mason and Marshall are the other two), all of whom are attending or went to Duke and is perhaps the least heralded of all three. Much was expected out of Miles coming out of high school as he appeared to have the perfect body for a NBA-quality big man. However, Miles never quite developed as many hoped, becoming a decent rebounder but not a very good scorer except on putbacks. Yet, this year when given a chance after being a throw-in in the offseason Scola trade Plumlee has flourished. He has become a serviceable, if not exactly spectacular, NBA center and looks to be in the league for a while to come. Not bad for a guy who was once thought to have a dim NBA future.
Did You Know?: The Suns broke the Trail Blazers’ longest current home winning streak against any one team (7) with the 102-98 win in Portland on Feb. 29, 2013
Song of the Day: “Thanksgiving Song” by Adam Sandler. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PG CJ McCollum (Foot).
Phoenix: Out-C Emeka Okafor (Neck), Questionable-PG Eric Bledsoe (Shin), C Alex Len (Ankle).
Re-Evaluating Phoenix: Failure to Finish
Phoenix has been one of this season’s early surprises and arguably should have an even better record than they do, since they have a habit of losing close games. Phoenix is 1-4 in games decided by 3 or less and has only played in 3 games decided by 10 or more (they are 2-1 in those). The reasons why this can happen are various and can involve bad luck, inferior talent or any one of many other factors. However, the biggest culprit for the Suns is arguably their late-game defense. As we saw against Portland, and has been observed several other times , Phoenix’s late-game defense is simply atrocious. Not only do they leave the primary option on the play option but they often leave at least one other player open as well. If you can’t play at least decent defense in those late game, high leverage possessions, you will tend to lose a lot of close games, as Phoenix has.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They limit Phoenix’s fast break points. Phoenix’s key on offense this year is fast break points, and they are first in the NBA with 21 fast break points per game. If Portland can limit that, they should win easily.
Phoenix wins if: They make their 3 pointers. Phoenix is a good three point shooting team. If they can make a bunch of 3s Wednesday night, they could well stop Portland’s winning streak at eleven.