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Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Game Preview

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The Trail Blazers try to recover from a tough loss to the Warriors last night when they travel to Phoenix to take on the winless Suns, who may be without up-and-coming guard Devin Booker.

NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) at Phoenix Suns (0-4)

Nov. 2, 2016 | 7:00 PDT
Watch: CSN NW | NBA League Pass
Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Festus Ezeli (out)
Suns injuries: Devin Booker (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: Bright Side of the Sun

The Trail Blazers look to rebound from a blowout loss to the Warriors last night when they face the Phoenix Suns in the second night of a back-to-back set of games.

In their second contest of the 2016-17 preseason last month, the Blazers toppled the Suns, 115-110. None of Portland’s starters played more than 24 minutes, and Shabazz Napier led the team in scoring with 20. Suns sophomore guard Devin Booker managed 34 points on 15-for-23 shooting that game, but a right big toe injury will either keep him in street clothes tonight or limit him physically.

In four games so far this season, the Blazers have struggled to log a full, 48-minute effort on both ends of the floor. Indeed, they’ve needed 34 points per game from Damian Lillard on over 22 shot attempts per night (52.2 percent shooting from the floor, 42.9 percent shooting from deep) and some late-game heroics just to get to 2-2.

With an Offensive Rating of 105.8, the Blazers are currently No. 12 in the NBA. That’s not bad, but consider their Defensive Rating of 110.6 — good for No. 27 in the league. They’re also dead-last in opponent points per game (114.5) and are No. 25 or worse in total opponent rebounds per game, opponent fast break points per game and opponent points in the paint per game.

In short, Portland needs a defensive tune-up. If Booker is indeed out tonight or hampered, the Blazers may catch a break against the Suns, who are so far winless through four games.

Phoenix gets out on the run, scores in transition and can get to the hoop, but so far a No. 29 ranking in Offensive Rating (95.6) shows the Suns need a more well-rounded attack to be truly competitive in the Western Conference. Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa and rookie Dragan Bender — who combine to attempt barely four 3-pointers a night -- are the only Suns shooting above 30 percent from deep, and Eric Bledsoe’s 18.8 percent from outside is a far cry from the 28.7 points per game he registered against Portland last season in three matchups. Expect Bledsoe to be his normal aggressive self against the Blazers, particularly if Booker is out.

TJ Warren, a 6-foot-8 forward, is leading Phoenix in minutes per game (35.8), points per game (21.3) and field goals attempted per game (16.8). So far, leaning on Warren to shoulder the Suns’ offensive burden hasn’t worked out well for coach Earl Watson.

Watch out for an ugly game tonight — Phoenix and Portland sit at No. 30 and 28, respectively, in opponent free throws per game. Bledsoe and Brandon Knight will likely parade to the free throw line often against the Blazers, while Lillard should be expected to return the favor.

It’s still early in the season, obviously, and each team has plenty time to clean up its shortcomings. That said, a matchup with the Suns on the second night of a back-to-back might produce interesting results. Both teams, so far, have inverted issues to overcome when compared: Phoenix has a passable defense right now but a terrible offense, while Portland’s offense is carrying the team with its defense clearly lagging behind.