Portland Trail Blazers (1-0) vs. Phoenix Suns (1-0)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Phoenix Suns at the Moda Center in their first home game of the season. Portland enters this contest coming off of a narrow win over the Sacramento Kings in their first game of the season. The Suns beat the Dallas Mavericks by just two points in a comeback win in their opening contest.
How to Watch
Friday, October 21 - 7:00 p.m PT
The game will be available to watch on Root Sports Plus, Bally Sports Arizona, and NBA League Pass.
Injuries and Player Availability
Guard Gary Payton II, center Olivier Sarr, and forward Trendon Watford are all out for this game.
Forward Jae Crowder and guard Landry Shamet have been listed as out for this matchup.
The Suns were the league’s best regular season team last year, winning 64 games before being eliminated from the playoffs in the second round. The Suns won three of four matchups against the Blazers last season, with the Blazers’ lone win coming in a 134-105 blowout very early into last season.
The Suns beat the Mavericks in their first game this season on the back of Devin Booker’s 28 point outing. Chris Paul struggled from the field in his first game back, making just one of his six shot attempts. Despite this, he had nine assists and two steals to help the Suns’ effort. Both dynamic guards will be hard to slow down for a Blazers backcourt that has shown little when it comes to defensive prowess. However, the increased switch ability that comes with the rest of the Blazers roster could prove more than enough to hide weaker defenders.
On the Blazers’ side, there was a lot to be excited about from the supporting cast. Josh Hart, Jerami Grant, and Anfernee Simons combined for 64 points in the win. Shaedon Sharpe also looked promising in the minutes he received, adding 12 points in just 16 minutes including making all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. However, despite all the excitement from the rest of the roster, all eyes were on the return of Damian Lillard in his first regular season game since January. Lillard scored 20 points, but shot uncharacteristically poor from both the field and from three. Lillard made just one of eight attempts from three and shot five of eighteen for the game overall.
Going from a team that finished with 30 wins last year to a team that finished with 64 will make the margin for error much lower. The Blazers will need Dame to be back to the player Portland fans have come to know and love over the past ten years as he looks to shake off the rust early in this season.
What They’re Saying
Duane Rankin of AZCentral asks if the point guard version of Devin Booker could be rearing his head following a strong showing in their win.
Point Book back?: Devin Booker is a much better playmaker than when Igor Kokoskov had him running the show in that disastrous 2018-19 season. He had six of his game-high nine assists in the fourth quarter Wednesday as he found Deandre Ayton for all three of Ayton’s field goals in the fourth.
Booker also didn’t turn it over in the fourth.
Those number are just as important as the team-high 28 points, but Booker also played through an injured left ankle and gave Ayton an earful about where he needed to be at the end of third in a very direct manner.
Maybe Booker doesn’t do that in that fashion four years ago, but that’s what someone who is not only the team leader, but has the ball in his hands must do.
NBA.com’s Michael C. Wright rated potential MVP right after the season opener for most teams, mentioning Devin Booker and Chris Paul as names to watch.
Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns: Deservedly, teammate Devin Booker receives most of the accolades, but we too often underestimate Paul’s significant contribution to the team’s overall cohesion. The 37-year-old ranks third in career assists (10,977) and needs just 23 more dimes to become the third player to notch 11,000 assists, joining the company of John Stockton (15,806) and Jason Kidd (12,091).
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: Signed a four-year supermax extension worth a reported $224 million in July after three-straight All-Star nods. The eighth-year pro turns 26 on Oct. 30, and last season became the fourth youngest player (25 years, 144 days) behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant to reach 11,000 career points (11,217 total) while finishing fourth in MVP voting.