Portland Trail Blazers (18-11) vs Phoenix Suns (19-10)
The Phoenix Suns may end up being the Portland Trail Blazers’ key rival in the race for home court advantage this postseason. But the Blazers first need to put Saturday’s surprise loss behind them because this Suns team is no longer a pushover. They are delivering on both sides of the ball and it’s showing in the Western Conference standings.
Monday, February 22- 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, League Pass, or see games all season on fuboTV, follow on ESPN+, or the ESPN/Disney Bundle*
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), CJ McCollum (out), Harry Giles (out) Suns injuries: Ty-Shon Alexander (out), Jalen Smith (out)
SBN Affiliate: Bright Side Of The Sun
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What To Watch For
- Make or miss league. What do the Blazers do when the shots aren’t falling like they weren’t in the last quarter on Saturday? Seriously what do they do? Can we organize an enquiry or a focus group to sort this out? Because I don’t know what’s going on.
- Dead-eye RoCo. I’ll be the first to admit my concern over Robert Covington’s long-ball shooting woes earlier in the season, but he seems to have turned the corner. Clearly, whatever happened to fix it did the trick with RoCo shooting 10 from 18 (55.6 percent) from three over the past four games. Let’s hope he continues hitting the long ball and stretching the floor.
- Defense. Look, the Blazers had passages of strong defensive coverage against the Wizards, but it’s hardly been consistent with Portland allowing the fifth highest opponent score across the association. Obviously, you can only do the best with the personnel you have but if this team is to make any noise in May, June, and July it needs to do more on that side of the ball.
What Others Are Saying
While shooting has been a highlight of the Suns’ season, it’s defense that’s fueling the team’s success, writes Dave King at Bright Side of the Sun.
“The Suns are sixth overall on defense among the 30-team league, and now are one of only three NBA teams with top-10 offense and top-10 defense at the same time.”
“On defense, the Suns play it safe. They don’t gamble for steals (29th in the league). They don’t sell out to block shots (27th). Both of those highlight actions can leave you vulnerable and put your teammates into a tough spot if you miss when you lunge for them.”
Christopher Boan at Arizona Sports discusses claims to an All-Star selection for both Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
“The discussion centers around whether do-it-all veteran Chris Paul or one-man scoring machine Devin Booker should be invited to the exhibition.
“There seems to be a consensus among NBA writers that the final reserve spot on the Western Conference squad comes down to Booker or Paul, but little else regarding who should earn the final spot on the roster.”
Chris Paul has also passed sixth on the all-time assists list passing the great Oscar Robertson, writes Jake Anderson at Arizona Sports.
“Paul now finds himself among some pretty exclusive company, especially at the point guard position.”
“He joins John Stockton and former Phoenix Sun Jason Kidd as the only three players in NBA history to be in the top seven all-time in both assists and steals.”
“The five players ahead of Paul on the all-time leaderboard are Stockton (15,806), Kidd (12,091), former Phoenix Sun Steve Nash (10,335), Mark Jackson (10,334) and Magic Johnson (10,141).”