Tonight the Portland Trail Blazers (20-19) visit Phoenix in an attempt to sweep the season series from the 16-21 Suns. Remember those Suns that defeated the Blazers in six games in the first round of the playoffs last year? Well, these aren’t them. Don’t be alarmed though, these Suns still don’t defend. In fact, they allow the most points in the league at almost 109 a game. These Suns do, however, still score, third most in the NBA at 106 points a game.
I know what you’re thinking, “didn’t we just play an offensive machine not known for defense and lose?” Yes, but the Suns are 0-3 against the Blazers this season, and those games were all before the swap of Blazer killer Jason Richardson for Vince Carter. Steve Nash is frustrated, his supporting cast is a shell of what it once was, and although the Blazers find themselves reeling after two losses to the Heat and Knicks, this game is theirs for the taking.
The Suns have lost 8 of their last 11, with their sole wins coming against Detroit, Cleveland and New Jersey (in overtime). Steve Nash is still producing, currently second in the league in assists, but the supporting cast is barren. If the Blazers can defend the dribble penetration of Nash and Carter and hold Channing Frye and Grant Hill to pedestrian stats, this game is theirs. As we saw with the Knicks, if the Blazers try to outscore and outshoot this Suns team without playing any defense, this game will turn ugly.
Tonight the Blazers must force the Suns to shoot contested jumpers, rebound, their misses, and get into the middle of their soft defense with Lamarcus Aldridge. Do those things and this game is done. Although, if the Blazers shoot 35% from the field again, this game won’t even be close.
TV: KGW, ESPN & ESPN3.com
Radio: 95.5 FM
Vegas Line: Phoenix -1.5