Team Records: Phoenix (38-36) at Portland (47-25)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM
Vegas Line: Portland -7.5
Refs: Scott Foster, Brian Forte, Derek Richardson
The Skinny: The Blazers look to officially secure a playoff spot with a win over the Suns Monday night at home. The Suns were dealt perhaps a fatal blow in their own playoff hopes Sunday with a home loss to OKC. Portland is seeking its first season series win against the Suns since the 2010-11 season.
Last Time They Met: LMA turned into Lamonster as he made tough shot after tough shot to put away a feisty Suns team. The Blazers have outscored the Suns by 42 points in the fourth quarter of the three games between the two teams this year.
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-Markieff Morris (pictured at right)– The better of the two Morris brothers, Markieff is an NBA quality starting PF with a good shooting touch on offense. He has this unfortunate tendency to take tough shots out of back to the basket sets but when he’s playing well, he can be quite effective. Although its not nearly the problem it was in the first few years of his career, Morris, although a solid defender, can still too often get caught out of position and commit silly fouls. Bottom line, he’s no star but he’s a good enough PF for this Phoenix team.
Did You Know?: The Suns are 14-0 this year when shooting at least 50% from 3 point range.
Song of the Day: “Monday Monday” by the Mamas and the Pappas. A fun song for a Monday game. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Wesley Matthews (Achilles)
Re-Evaluating Phoenix: Expectations are Funny Things
Before last year, I would have told you that the Suns would be overjoyed to be anywhere close to the playoffs in the next few seasons. I rated them as one of the worst teams in the league before the 2013-14 season, as did lots of people, and we were all wrong. Yet, coming off a season that saw them just barely miss the playoffs, the Suns were expected to do better. They haven’t. Some of that is trading Dragic but they weren’t exactly a playoff team with him. Its time for Phoenix to evaluate what their expectations are, or should be, because losing sucks, but it can be doubly painful when you fall short of expectations when doing so.
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 two wins versus the Suns this year. 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.