The Raptors and Suns play for the final time this season. They last met in Toronto just before the new year, headlined by a season-high tying 35 points by Gary Trent Jr and Christian Koloko’s first career three in crunch time. Both teams are starting to pick up wins after an unexpected first half of the season.
Raptors scope (23-28, 12th in East | Offensive rating: 11th | Defensive rating: 18th)
Toronto jumped all over Portland on Saturday, leading by 23 points after the first quarter. The defense was great against the Kings and Blazers, mixed with a letdown in Golden State.
The main talking point is the continued development of Precious Achiuwa. He’s averaging a double-double (18.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg) over the last five games despite coming off the bench twice. He had a career-high 27 points against the Blazers.
Suns scope (26-25, 9th in West | Offensive rating: 13th | Defensive rating: 9th)
Phoenix is getting back on track. Since losing 12 of 14 games, the Suns have won four of their last five. Overtime was needed to knock off the Spurs on Saturday. Chris Paul turned back the clock for 31 points and 11 assists.
It’s also good news that Devin Booker’s return could be soon. He aggravated the injury during his 58 point explosion against the Pelicans six weeks ago. Booker tried giving it a go on Christmas, but only last four minutes. When whole, the Suns still have enough firepower to match up with arguably any team in the West. Three teams have identical 26-25 records and the fifth place Timberwolves are only a half game ahead. The parity is almost unprecedented by NBA standards.
Tip-Off: 9pm EST | TV: TSN 1/3/4/5 | Radio: TSN Radio 1050
O.G. Anunoby (wrist) will remain out. Dalano Banton (hip) is questionable. Otto Porter Jr. (toe) is out for the season.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, Jeff Dowtin Jr.
SG: Gary Trent Jr.
SF: Scottie Barnes, Juancho Hernangomez, Ron Harper Jr.
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Thaddeus Young
C: Precious Achiuwa, Christian Koloko, Khem Birch
Devin Booker (groin) is scheduled to be re-evaluated this week. Landry Shamet (foot), Cameron Payne (foot) and Jae Crowder (away from team) are all out.
PG: Chris Paul, Saben Lee, Duane Washington Jr.
SG: Mikal Bridges, Damion Lee
SF: Cameron Johnson, Josh Okogie, Ish Wainright
PF: Torrey Craig, Dario Saric
C: Deandre Ayton, Bismack Biyombo, Jock Landale
The Suns are favoured by 2.5 points. Over/Under is 226.5.
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