On Sunday the Phoenix Suns, who are in the midst of an East Coast road trip, make their way to Toronto for their only contest against the Raptors in Toronto this season. The Raptors have sputtered offensively recently, suffering back to back losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets. What better way for the Raptors to have a bounce back game than face one of the worst defensive teams in the league, the Suns, who are playing on a back to back.
The Suns go into Toronto with a 14-29 record, dead last in the Western Conference. Their defense ranks them 24th in defensive rating at 108, posting an overall net rating of -4.8 ranking them 26th in the NBA. The numbers don’t look pretty for the Suns, but that wasn’t the story when these teams met earlier this year. The Raptors were working on a back to back coming off a rough loss to the San Antonio Spurs. They struggled to score, shooting an ugly 25% from the thre point line on 27 three point attempts, and took a big hit when Patrick Patterson left the game with a knee injury. Some might chalk this one up as a “schedule loss”, but the Raptors are a far superior team, and losses to teams like the Suns and more recently by the 76ers, (even if they’re playing great as of recently) still hurt.
One player to look out for is Suns deadliest scorer, sophomore Devin Booker. The Suns may have gotten a steal with the 13th pick in the 2015 draft. Booker only played one year of college under Coach Calipari at Kentucky and came off the bench to win the SEC Sixth Man of the Year award.
From the second he got into the league, Booker made his best attribute known early, he can score. With great speed, amazing ball handling skilld, and shooting form, Booker has proven that at only 20 years old he has the potential to be a multi-time All Star and is a scoring presence to be feared. This season Booker is averaging 20.4 points per game, shooting 42% on 17.5 field goal attempts, and 35% from three on five attempts per game. A majority of the Suns offense is run through Booker, posting a 27.7 USG% this season, and at such a young age, he’s still very prone to the occasional off night. The Raptors will have to do their best to contain Booker, who in yesterday’s game scored 26 and hit a go ahead three with 30 seconds left on the clock against the Knicks.
The Raptors will have to control the pace in this game as best as they can. The Suns rank 3rd in the NBA in PACE, and the Raptors have fallen prey to playing to the other teams speed on more than one occasion. The Raptor may have a bit of a chip on their shoulder coming off their biggest loss of the season to the Hornets. Look for the Raptors to come out hot early, taking advantage of a Suns team that has a 5-17 record on the road.
Gametime is at 6:00PM EST, on TSN 1/3/4, and on the airwaves at TSN Radio 1050.
Raptors Updates –
Patrick Patterson (knee) and Lucas Nogueira (NBA Concussion Protocol) are still game-time decisions. Patterson who injured his knee in the first game against the Suns, and has only played two games in the month of January. It would have been nice for Patterson to come back against the Suns, as the Raptors are limited at defending smaller power forwards like P.J. Tucker, T.J. Warren, and even Marquese Chriss.
Nogueira has been out the past two games, after going through the NBA’s concussion protocol in a game against the Brooklyn Nets. Rookie Pascal Siakam will most likely get the start for Toronto if Nogueira is still out.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: DeMarre Carroll, Terrence Ross
PF: Pascal Siakam, Jared Sullinger, Bruno Caboclo
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl
TBD: Patrick Patterson, Lucas Nogueira
Suns Updates –
The Suns might be without veteran floor spacer Jared Dudley, who is out due to dizziness, and remains a game time decision. Although Dudley dressed for yesterday’s game against the Knicks, he did not see floor time. Dudley has only played in one game since December 23rd, and this has forced Earl Watson to mix up his rotation a bit. The younger Warren has been slotted into the starting lineup at small forward, moving P.J. Tucker to the bench. Warren might not space the floor out like Dudley does, but he’s very effective within the restricted area and working a very nice midrange game.
PG: Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Tyler Ulis
SG: Devin Booker, Leandro Barbosa
SF: T.J. Warren, Derrick Jones Jr.
PF: Marquese Chriss, P.J. Tucker, Dragan Bender
C: Tyson Chandler, Alex Len, Alan Williams
TBD: Jared Dudley
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