The Phoenix Suns begin a two-game road swing against the Portland Trailblazers. Both teams are outside of the Western Conference playoff picture with the Trailblazers sitting in 11th place, although they are presently just 4.5 half games behind eighth-place Memphis, while the Suns are 11th. If neither team makes the playoffs this year, it would mark the first time in seven years that the Portland has failed to do so, and the 10th straight year that Phoenix has not reached the postseason.
This is the fourth and final game of the year between the two teams. The Suns lead the season series 2-1 having taken each of the last two contests, including the March 6th contest 127-117 in Phoenix. The Suns never trailed in this contest and knocked down 19 three-pointers as well as received career-high 37 points from Aron Baynes. Baynes, who also collected 16 rebounds including six on the offensive end, finished the game 12 of 23 from the field as well as nine of 14 from beyond the arc. Dario Saric had 24 points and eight rebounds while Devin Booker chipped in 23 points and 12 assists. Mikal Bridges finished with 18 points, and Ricky Rubio totaled his third straight double-double in the series with 13 points along with 10 assists. Rubio, Bridges, and Baynes each posted a +17 plus/minus rating or better. Meanwhile, CJ McCollum led three Trail Blazer players who topped the 20-point plateau with 25 points on 10 of 20 shooting from the field along with eight assists. Damian Lillard added 23 points along with six assists while Hassan Whiteside was a monster around the rim with 23 points and 20 rebounds (five offensive). Portland Trailblazers0 also had a big game with 17 points as he was 5-for-9 from the field and 3-for-5 from the three-point line as well as 4-for-5 from the charity stripe.
Suns Aiming To Extend Winning StreakPhoenix (26-38) is back on the road after a lengthy six-game homestand where they won the final two games, thus snapping a four-game losing streak. Phoenix, which entered as a 6.5-point underdog, is coming off a huge upset (140-131) victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. The Suns got off to hot-start as they scored 47 points over the first 12 minutes as they made a blistering 75% from the field, which included draining nine of 14 (64.3%) shots from beyond the arc. The Suns never trailed and finished the game making 55.3% from the field as well as 44.2% (19-42) of their attempts from beyond the arc and 27 of 31 from the charity stripe. Booker, who made 13 of 17 shots from the field including four of six from deep, led the way by tossing in 20 of his 36 points in the opening quarter. Rubio posted a triple-double with 25 points along with 13 rebounds and 13 assists as well just one turnover. Baynes added 24 points, as he was 4-for-11 from the three-point line. Bridges contributed 21 points and 10 caroms while Jevon Carter and Saric also reached double-figures.
Booker, Rubio fill up stat sheet 👏@DevinBook (36 PTS, 8 AST) & @rickyrubio9 (25 PTS, 13 REB, 13 AST) power the @Suns W against Milwaukee. pic.twitter.com/YhrylwcDER— NBA (@NBA) March 9, 2020
Phoenix is 4-5 since the all-star break and is 13-16, which includes posting a 9-10 record against Western Conference squads, away from the Talking Stick Resort, although the Suns have won each of their last two road games. Phoenix has been much more efficient on the offensive end over their previous nine games, producing an offensive rating of 113.1 and an effective field goal percentage of 55.1%, as the Suns are sharing the ball better as well. The Suns are averaging 114.1 points per game as they are shooting from 47.1% from the field and 12.8 triples from the three-point line at a 37.8% clip as well as 84.1% from the free-throw line since the all-star break. The Suns are also posting an assist rate of 70.7%, a turnover rate of 16.9%, and an offensive rebound rate of 29%. Defensively, Phoenix is allowing 114.9 points on 48.2% from the field and 12.7 triples on 38% from long-distance during this span. While the Suns have been a tad bit worse on the defensive end after the all-star break allowing opponents to record an effective field goal percentage of 55.7%, they have done a slightly better job at forcing turnovers (16.9%) and rebounding the ball on the defensive end (72.8%).
Phoenix has been hampered with injuries all season long and have had 18 different players appear in a game with 13 players earning starts and 14 players averaging 10 or more minutes a game. The Suns are still dealing with injuries with Kelly Oubre and Frank Kaminsky, both of whom have been out for a while, remaining out for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, DeAndre Ayton (ankle) and Cameron Johnson (illness) have sat out the last two contests and are questionable for the game against Portland. The Suns' starters have been fantastic over the previous two games, compiling 84.9% of the team's starters over the last two games. Booker, who has topped the 20-point mark in eight of his previous nine games and produced four double-doubles during this stretch, is averaging 24.points along with 2.1 three-pointers, 7.8 assists, and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 45% from the field and 37.7% from beyond the arc during this stretch. Rubio has compiled eight double-doubles over his last nine games and is
Tonight @rickyrubio9 became the first Sun with a triple-dozen since @SteveNash in ‘05.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) March 9, 2020
Ricky’s response postgame :
“It’s an honor for me. Steve Nash is one of my idols!”#PlayInStyle pic.twitter.com/F3WbEEcvzp
Bridges' performance against the Bucks marked his third game of topping the 20-point mark and tied his season-high in rebounds. The 23-year-old has scored in double-figures in six straight overall and knocked down multiple three-pointers in each of those contests, making 15 of 34 (44.1%). Baynes has been off the charts in his past two outings, totaling 51 points on 20-for- 39 (52.1%) shooting from the floor and 13-for-25 (52%) while grabbing 23 boards and recording three blocks. Saric has scored in double-figures in five consecutive games and grabbed at least three rebounds in each of those games.
Trail Blazers Looking To Snap Losing SkidFor the second the time this season, Portland (28-37) is nine games under .500, which ties a season-high mark.Portland suffered its second straight loss with its 123-111 setback at home to Sacramento on Saturday. The Trailblazers, who were 2.5-point favorites, got off to another slow start as their defense got gauged for 40 points in the first 12 minutes for the second consecutive outing and trailed by 14 after the opening quarter. The Blazers were down by 20 at the start of the fourth quarter but, unlike in their previous game against the Suns where they also trailed by a bunch early, they were unable to make a run to get back into the contest.
"It's an understatement to say that we're disappointed with the way that we played in the first quarter, first half," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We didn't play like a desperate team, a team fighting for a playoff spot, and it's hard enough to win in this league, much less when you don't compete as hard as you need to compete."
The Blazers have now allowed an average of 125 points and 20 triples over the last two games with the Kings making 21 of 39 tries (53.8%) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Portland has made just 23 of 71 (32.3%) of their three-point attempts during the past two games. Whiteside led the way against Sacramento, as McCollum and Lillard struggled, with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting along with 11 rebounds and three blocks. McCollum tossed in 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting though he was just 1-for-7 from long-distance and doled out six assists. Lillard finished with 12 points and six assists, but he missed 11 of 15 shots from the field and eight of 10 from deep. Mario Hezonja chipped in 16 points, and Gary Trent Jr. added 14 points off the bench.
Portland has lost 10 of 15 games. The Trailblazers, who are 3-6 since the all-star break, own a 17-14 record at the Moda Center. But they have lost three of their last five there and have been outscored by a total of 28 points. The Blazers' offensive efficiency has improved since the all-star break as they are averaging 114.2 points on 48.8% shooting from the field and 37.2% from beyond the ac and 75.5% from the free-throw line. Defensively, the Blazers have struggled all season long though they have been less efficient lately, posting a 116 defensive efficiency rating as they are allowing 116.2 points on 46.2% shooting from the field along with 15.7 three-pointers at a 41.6% clip since Feb. 16.
Portland has also had its share of injuries and has used more players (19) and more different starters (16) than Phoenix. Lillard's 12 points on Saturday marked the first time that he has not topped the 20-point plateau since tallying 11 points on New Year's Day. The 29-year-old has struggled since returning from injury three games as he is averaging 19.3 points and three triples on 37.2% shooting from the field along with 37% from long distance as well as just 5.7 assists over the last three games. Lillard has also made multiple three-pointers and doled out at least five assists in each of his previous four outings, although he has committed three or more turnovers in three of those games. McCollum has picked up his offense over the last since the all-star break compiling 29.6 points, 3.6 treys, 7.7 assists, and five rebounds while shooting 48.5% from the field and 37.2% from beyond the arc. Whiteside has registered 13 consecutive double-doubles and now has 50 for the season. Whiteside, who has recorded a block in nine straight games, leads the NBA with 3.1 blocks and is second with 14.3 caroms.
5️⃣0️⃣ pic.twitter.com/CFMWAS1K1R— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 9, 2020
- Trailblazers are 7-19 ATS in their last 26 Tue. games.
- Trailblazers are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
- Trail Blazers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.