By Ben York, Suns.com Tonight’s game against the Raptors will be the first of two meetings between these two clubs, with the next coming in Toronto on March 16. The Raptors swept the series 2-0 last season; Toronto’s first two-game sweep against the Suns since 2003-04. Phoenix has won 14 of 17 games against the Raptors, but Toronto has won three straight since snapping a series-long 14-game streak by the Suns in 2011-12. 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 #SunsVsRaptors.
Running and Gunning The Suns rank 1st in the NBA with 20.0 fast break points per game (New Orleans is next with 17.8) and rank 1st in the NBA with 19.8 percent of the team’s total points coming on the fast break (next highest is New Orleans with 17.2 percent). The Suns have scored at least 20 fast break points in 11 of the first 19 games of the season. In 2012-13, Phoenix scored 20+ fast break points 12 times all season. Against a Raptors team who allows 98 points per game to the opposition, the fast break could be huge for Phoenix tonight.
3-Point Shooting The Suns have made 7+ three-pointers in 11 consecutive games, the team’s longest streak since doing so in 12 straight games from April 7-Nov. 8, 2010. The Suns rank 5th in the NBA with 9.3 three-point makes per game. Toronto is adept at defending the 3-point shot and allows opponents to shoot just 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Getting to the Line The Raptors do a good job of getting to the foul line often. But the Suns are 7-0 this season when attempting more free throws than their opponent and 2-7 when their opponent attempts more. If Phoenix can have a positive differential in terms of free throws attempted, history says the Suns will win.
The Dragon Goran Dragic is off to his best start of his young career. He has scored at least 14 points and had at least eight assists in six of the last eight games (averaging 20.0 points and 8.0 assists over this span). In 11 games this season in which he has started and not had to leave the game early due to injury, has averaged 20.5 points and 7.9 assists. His productivity is key to the Suns’ success.
Protecting Home Court Jeff Hornacek was the first coach in Suns history to win his first four home games, and the fifth coach in Suns history to start his tenure with the team 2-0 and first to do so at the start of the season. The Suns are now a respectable 5-3 at home while Toronto is 3-5 on the road. This is a game the Suns need to jump on early.