Portland Trail Blazers (6-2) vs Phoenix Suns (6-2)
The Portland Trail Blazers play their second straight game against the Phoenix Suns at the Footprint Center for their second game of a four game road trip. The Blazers and Suns play their third and final game of the year, with Portland taking both of the first two.
The Blazers now sit at the top of the Western Conference due to them owning the tiebreaker against the second place Suns. The Blazers started the season red-hot and have not really skipped a beat, even in the absence of Damian Lillard. They look to complete the season series sweep against the Suns tonight with a second straight road win.
The Phoenix Suns are 6-0 against the rest of the league and have been a force to be reckoned with. However, the Blazers seem to have their number early in the season. The Suns, who were the best regular season team just a season ago, look strong as ever to start this season and are looking to take a game off of the Blazers in the two’s last matchup of the season.
Blazers vs. Suns – Saturday, November 5 – 7:00 p.m. PT
How to Watch: NBA TV, Root Sports Plus, Bally Sports Arizona, NBA League Pass
Blazers Injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Gary Payton II (out), Olivier Saar (out), Trendon Watford (doubful), Anfernee Simons (questionable)
Suns Injuries: Jae Crowder (out), Cameron Johnson (questionable), Torrey Craig (probable), Cameron Payne (probable), Ishmail Wainright (out)
SBN Affiliate: Bright Side of the Sun
- Doing it by committee. Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard have combined for 53 points per game this season. Unfortunately with both sidelined for the second straight game, the rest of the Blazers have to figure out how to fill that scoring void. Last game it was Jerami Grant taking the brunt of the scoring responsibilities with his 30 point performance, including a buzzer beating jump shot to win the game. No other Blazer scored more than 14, but six players scored more than ten. A by committee scoring approach will likely be employed once again, and the supporting cast of the Blazers will be eager to follow up such a great showing with another surprise win.
- Jerami Grant. One of the biggest questions heading into this season would be how Jerami Grant would adjust to not being a first option after having a massive green light for two years in Detroit. So far he has adjusted incredibly well, averaging 16.7 points per game heading into last nights game and playing great defense. However, he showed that when called upon, he still has that same fire in him that saw him average over 20 points per game during his Detroit tenure. Grant will have the opportunity to follow up his highest scoring night of the year with another big game, as he will likely be called upon to lead the scoring attack on the second night of this back to back.
- You again? The Suns and Blazers will have played three times in the first nine games of the season after tonight. The Blazers have found a lot of success in these early matchups, but Monty Williams is a great coach, and Chris Paul a great floor general. With little time between their last matchup and tonight, it is unlikely that either the Blazers or the Suns will have time for a full practice, or even a somewhat intensive film session. Due to this, tonight’s game may be decided by which coach makes the best in game adjustments, and which players are able to throw the other team off the best. With the reigning coach of the year and a player dubbed the “Point God,” the Suns may have a slight edge in how they were able to respond. With a total margin of victory of four points in the last two meetings, the Blazers may be hard pressed to keep their dominance up.
What Others Are Saying
Donnie Druin of Inside the Suns highlights how good Chris Paul has been so far, even without his scoring being near career averages.
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul isn’t asked to drop 30 points per night, but there’s still an expectation for him to provide some buckets on occasion.
Thus far, Paul has averaged 10.1 points, good enough for 136th in the league. Though early, that would fall well short of his career-low of 14.7 points per night (established last season).
The 37-year-old has seen a decline in his scoring ability over recent seasons, yet the Suns are 6-1 for plenty of reasons, Paul’s overall play being one.
He currently paces the league in assists with 11 averaged per game and is ninth in the NBA with 1.9 steals per night.
Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian mentioned the defensive versatility that comes with the Portland Trail Blazers roster this season.
It’s also tough to defend a team loaded with offensive weapons and led by one of the all-time great court orchestrators, Chris Paul.
The Blazers didn’t exactly shut down the Suns, but they did prove disruptive enough to slow them down. The Suns average 118.3 points per game. Part of holding them 12 points below their average could be attributed to not having the 6-2 Lillard and 6-3 Simons in the lineup.
The Blazers were simply bigger and longer and used that to their advantage.
“It was great for our defense,” Billups said. “We were able to change up a lot of stuff defensively throughout the game. I just felt like we were physical from the start of the game. Not only did the other team know who wasn’t playing, we knew who wasn’t playing. So, I told our guys before the game, ‘Just go hoop. Have fun. Play together. Be physical. We will live with the results.’”