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Thank you Dave for participating in our Q&A.
1. The Blazers got a look at the Suns on Oct. 23 before the team went on its long win streak? What has changed about the team since the last meeting?
King: So far, each win has gone to the rested team at home, with the Blazers winning opening week, then the Suns winning two weeks later. This time, the Blazers have the rest advantage as the Suns play Monday in LA. Overall, the Suns are playing very well, winners of 20 of their last 21 games, but are now (probably) without Booker, (maybe) Ayton and — I can’t believe I’m writing this — will definitely miss Frank Kaminsky too.
2. What is the biggest challenge the Suns currently face?
King: Complaining about Suns challenges to Blazers fans is like complaining a bruise to a person with two broken arms. The Suns are missing some rotation players at the moment (Booker, Ayton, Nader, Kaminsky, Saric) but have been winning anyway with a deep bench. Ayton might even be back on Tuesday. The biggest immediate challenge is not expecting too much from Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet in Booker’s absence.
3. If the Suns slip up and are upset tonight, what would be the reason?
King: The Suns losing to the Blazers would not be a surprise, given it’s a SEGABABA on the road and the Suns are currently missing some players. If they lose, it’s because they couldn’t shoot straight and couldn’t defend on the other end. The Blazers can win if Dame does Dame stuff, and everyone steps up in CJ’s absence — as long as they force the Suns to shoot poorly.
4. What is one thing that Blazers fans should know about the Suns that they wouldn’t find in a box score?
King: The Suns are really, really good on defense — best in franchise history, probably. They are ranked #2 overall this season in defensive efficiency and just simply don’t give up many easy shots. The Suns you saw on that Saturday night in Portland in opening week are not the Suns anyone else has seen. Not a single player is having a career year on the offensive end, unless you count backup center JaVale McGee, yet they are 21-4 and look every bit the part of a contender. Their depth and defense is what’s carrying them.
5. What is your prediction for the game?
King: I do think the Suns win this one. With CJ McCollum out (prayers up!), the Blazers just need too much from Dame to beat the best teams in the league. I really do hope the Blazers are healthy soon enough to make a playoff push. But just as I wrote earlier, they’re talented enough to win any game and I would not be surprised to see a Blazers win on Tuesday.