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Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Preview

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With a streak of below .500 opponents in front of them, Portland has a chance to get back in the race in the Western Conference.

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

Portland Trail Blazers (10-16) at Phoenix Suns (11-14)

December 16, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Nassir Little (questionable),
Suns injuries: Devin Booker (questionable)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Bright Side of the Sun

The Portland Trail Blazers get a chance to visit sunny Arizona in the winter for a matchup with the Phoenix Suns.

Last time out, Portland fell to the Denver Nuggets 114-99. Hassan Whiteside had 33 points, but the Blazers shot poorly from three-point range and were heavily outrebounded in a playoff revenge match.

For the Suns, they fell in brutal fashion, losing to the San Antonio Spurs in overtime 121-119 on a Patty Mills three with 0.3 seconds remaining. Ricky Rubio had 25 to lead the Suns.

What to watch for

  • Win on the glass. Without three of its best rebounders, the Trail Blazers have struggled on the glass as of late. The Suns will still be without center Deandre Ayton as he serves the final game of his 25-game suspension, but Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky are excellent rebounders. Gaining an advantage there will be huge.
  • Engage the bench. Nothing quite describes the loss to Denver like the bench statistics. Anfernee Simons was the only bench player to hit a shot, as a whole they were 4-of-15 from the field and 0-for-3 from three, and were outscored 46-9. The Suns get solid minutes out of their second squad, a strength that will only improve if Devin Booker returns from injury. The Blazers need mileage out of Simons, Skal Labissiere, and Mario Hezonja. However, with Nassir Little potentially out, this task could be herculean.
  • Do not get complacent. This season the Blazers have had a nasty habit of playing down to beaten up competition. The Suns may be without their two best players, but that does not mean they will roll over and play dead for Portland. If the Suns are without Booker, their long defenders will struggle with fast cutters like Damian Lillard. If Booker plays, he tends to be a turnstile for whatever player ends up with him. Either way, Portland needs to be aggressive.

What they’re saying

Dave King of Bright Side of the Sun asks who will step up to be the point guard for the Suns second unit:

In the last 8 games since Rubio returned from injury (back spasms), the Suns backup playmakers have simply not been very good.

Daniel Gonzalez of the Arizona Republic asks if the Suns are doing enough to promote outreach into Arizona’s booming Hispanic population:

Suns officials say the team has been trying to reach out to Latino fans for years, and they are doubling down on those efforts.