Team Records: Phoenix (11-15) at Portland (12-12)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM
Vegas Line: Portland -3.5
Refs: Ron Garretson, Kevin Cutler, Leroy Richardson
The Skinny: Following a fourth straight win Thursday at home vs. the Nuggets, the Blazers hope to make it close out their six game homestand with a fifth straight win. The Suns have won four straight heading into this one and look to be getting on track after a horrible start. Still, it has been an up and down year so far for the first year of the post-Nash era.
Last Time They Met: The Suns easily dispatched Portland in Phoenix, pulling away early and dominating the Blazers in seemingly every facet of the game. Gortat led the Suns with 22 points and 7 boards.
Projected Suns Lineup:
PF-Luis Scola (Argentina-6th Season) 12.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2 APG.
SF-Jared Dudley (Boston College-5th Season)-10.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.2 APG.
C-Marcin Gortat (Poland-5th Season)-11 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.3 APG
SG-Shannon Brown (Michigan State-6th Season)-13.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2 APG.
PG-Goran Dragic (Slovenia-5th Season)-15 PPG, 3 RPG, 6.6 APG
Player to Watch-Michael Beasley (pictured at right)- There was a time that Michael Beasley and OJ Mayo were thought of as the next big NBA stars. It hasn’t really come true for either of them and Beasley is still stuck in a rut even as Mayo seemingly has found his way this season Beasley’s talents lie mostly on offense, where he loves to shoot the ball as much as humanely possible while seemingly never passing. He can always be counted on to go left when driving in the hoop, if he doesn’t pull up for a low percentage shot first. When he’s on he can be good but when he’s off, watch out, he’s far more likely to go 3-13 or 7-21 than 9-17. On defense, he really doesn’t try very hard and he shows. Still, as an off the bench scorer you can do worse, and many teams certainly have.
Did You Know?: The Suns are 2 wins away from becoming the fourth-fastest franchise to reach 2000 wins, behind only the Celtics, Lakers and Sixers.
Song of the Day: “Da Shoota” by Trey Ballz-A fan created song honoring Luke Babbitt (it says its him singing, its not, but its pretty good). Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-PG Nolan Smith (Illness), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Ankle).
Phoenix: Out-PF Channing Frye (Enlarged Heart)
Re-Evaluating the Suns: How Do You Replace Steve Nash?
After last season the Suns stalwart and one of the best PGs to ever play in the league, Steve Nash left for greener pastures in LA. So how do you replace Nash? The short answer is you can’t. Nash is truly a player that made everyone around him better, most notably PFs such as Amare and Shawn Marion. While Goran Dragic is a solid PG he is no Steve Nash, no one is. The Suns are left to pick up the pieces and start a rebuild. Whether that rebuild succeeds, its way too early to tell but for now, the Suns and their fans are still probably longing for the steady leadership Nash provided.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Hold Phoenix under 100 points. The Suns are going to give up a fair number of points but they will also probably score a fair bit as well. If Portland can keep Phoenix under the century mark, they should make it five in a row.
Phoenix wins if: They have a good night from deep. Phoenix relies heavily on the three point shot to win games. If they can make them on Saturday, they should be able to stop Portland’s winning streak at 4.