By Ben York, Suns.com Back at .500 on the season (7-7) with the loss to Miami on Monday, the Suns return home to US Airways Center to take on the surging Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, November 27. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Arizona at 7:00pm and fans can listen to the radio broadcast on Arizona Sports 620. Click through to see five things Suns fans should watch for during #SunsVsBlazers.
Batum vs. Dragic Suns.com’s Matt Petersen detailed how the match-up between Nicolas Batum and Goran Dragic could be a major factor in tonight’s game. “Portland prefers that Nicolas Batum serve as a defensive pest on the opposing team’s best perimeter threat and/or ball-handler,” writes Petersen. “In the past, including the teams’ earlier meetings this season, that has meant Goran Dragic and, to a lesser extent, Eric Bledsoe. With Bledsoe a game-time decision after undergoing an precautionary MRI today, the Blazers run the risk of a severe mismatch if they hold to that plan. Gerald Green measures 6-foot-8, and would be able to get his shot off at will if the 6-1 Lillard switches over to allow the Batum-Dragic feud to continue. It will be up to Green to make Portland pay for that mismatch should it occur. If it doesn’t, Dragic will be considerably more free to continue wreaking his recent streak of havoc (18.4 points, 8.6 assists over the last five games).”
Combatting the Blazers’ Depth “They’re a good team,” Jeff Hornacek said. “They’ve been good in the past. They had injuries last year. They’ve added some great pieces in Lopez and Mo Williams and Dorrell Wright. They’re very deep with a lot of veteran guys.” One huge reason for the Blazers'…well…blazing hot start to the season has been their depth and improved play off the bench. Still thin with Eric Bledsoe as a day-to-day decision, the Suns will need a collective effort to get by Portland.
Staying Healthy As mentioned before, Eric Bledsoe remains day-to-day with a shin bruise. Losing that depth certainly hasn’t helped the Suns who will end up playing shorthanded during a blistering stretch of six games in nine days from Nov. 22 through Nov. 30. Indeed, the Suns can’t afford to lose any more players. Needless to say, Phoenix remaining relatively healthy could go a long way against the Blazers as well as during their upcoming stretch of three games in four days.
Turnovers The Suns average 16.4 turnovers per game, the sixth worst mark in the NBA. On a positive note, the Trail Blazers only force 12.9 turnovers defensively which is last in the league. If the Suns can focus on controlling the ball and playing smart, it could pay dividends against an elite Portland team.
Bench Mob The play of the Morris brothers could hugely impact the result of tonight’s game. They’ve each looked much more active on both ends of the floor over the past few games, and the Suns will need a similar effort tonight. Protecting their home floor is vital with two of their next three games at home before a tough back-to-back on the road against Memphis and Houston.