Gameday: Raptors @ Suns, March 11

Here we go. Let's steal one vs. the best team in the league.

Let’s to it. The best team in the NBA awaits, and so too do their crisp and precise set actions.

The Phoenix Suns, oh boy. Even without Chris Paul and Cam Johnson, this is a well-oiled machine. Where the Raptors offense can be loosely defined by a ‘read and react’ style with very little structure over top of it, the Suns would be ‘read and react’ with a lot of structure over top of it. They hit hard and heavy with their favourite plays on offense, then they start to disguise their plays as the game wears on. They are a team that requires significant discipline if you want to hang with them, and the Raptors have been waning in that regard at a few different stops this season. The good guys’ affinity for switching does simplify some of the actions the Raptors will have to navigate, but a big defensive test lies ahead of them.

Offensively, this should be a really, really interesting matchup for the Raptors. The Suns will more than likely be very effective at pressuring and funneling Fred VanVleet – he has his counters, absolutely, but the Suns are good at this – and when Pascal Siakam is on his game he’s one of the most awkward defensive matchups in the NBA. Too much size, or too much speed, or too much herky-jerk, teams have trouble with him. And joining Siakam’s dominance, we have Scottie Barnes. He closed out the Spurs in dominant fashion, and in a new fashion. How do the Suns divide the defensive attention thrown at the Raptors self-creating wings? Are Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges tied to their respective matchups (whoever that ends up being) or are they switching throughout the game to provide different looks? The answer to that question, and how the Raptors force their hand is probably the most important one ahead of this matchup.

There’s no substitute for CP3, but the Suns still find their advantages, still get downhill, and still find Ayton in pockets of space. Speaking of Ayton, I think his offensive film should be something that Precious Achiuwa is watching constantly. Achiuwa’s biggest struggle this season is probably his awareness on the offensive end, and Ayton is one of the best examples of how to quickly turn yourself from a big man on the floor, into a big target for people to throw passes to. The big man in Phoenix is tremendous when it comes to mirroring his guards and extending passing lanes both vertically and horizontally. Something the Raptors have to be very weary of, and something that Achiuwa can aspire to bring into his own game.

So, the story heading into the game? The Raptors have a chance to win the wing battle, and VanVleet has to put the screws to former Raptor, Cameron Payne. There’s a route to victory here, but it requires walking the maze of Monty Williams’ immaculately built team.

Toronto Raptors Results, Lineups & Injuries

Previous Results

@ Spurs W 119-104
@ Cavaliers L 104-96
vs Magic L 103-97
vs Pistons L 108-106
vs Nets W 109-108

Probable Lineup

PF: P. Siakam, C. Boucher, T. Young
SF: S. Barnes, Y. Watanabe
C: K. Birch, Precious Achiuwa
PG: Fred VanVleet, D. Banton
SG: G. Trent Jr., S. Mykhailiuk, A. Brooks, I. Bonga


David Johnson, PGOut moreJohnson (undisclosed) was inactive for Sunday’s loss to the Maine Celtics with an undisclosed injury.
Malachi Flynn, PGOut moreFlynn will be out at least 10 days due to his left hamstring strain before being re-evaluated by the Raptors, Amy Audibert of Sportsnet reports.
OG Anunoby, SFOut moreAnunoby (finger) is expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

Phoenix Suns Results, Lineups & Injuries

Previous Results

@ Heat W 111-90
@ Magic W 102-99
@ Bucks L 132-122
vs Knicks W 115-114
vs Trail Blazers W 120-90

Probable Lineup

PF: J. Crowder, I. Wainright
SF: M. Bridges, T. Craig
C: D. Ayton, J. McGee, B. Biyombo
PG: C. Payne, E. Payton, A. Holiday
SG: D. Booker, L. Shamet


Cameron Johnson, SFOut moreJohnson (quadriceps) has been ruled out for Friday’s game against the Raptors, Kellan Olson of reports.
Chris Paul, PGOut morePaul has an avulsion fracture of his right thumb and is slated to miss 6-8 weeks once the regular season resumes, David Aldridge of The Athletic reports.
Frank Kaminsky, PFOut moreKaminsky underwent successful knee surgery Friday and will be re-evaluated in eight weeks, David Aldridge of The Athletic reports.
Dario Saric, PFOut moreSaric suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during the first quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Betting Lines

Money Line