Trail Blazers vs. Suns Betting Preview: Expect Phoenix to Dominate Early

Action Network contributor Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews how to bet Saturday's matchup between the Trail Blazers and Suns.

Trail Blazers vs. Suns Odds

Trail Blazers Odds +10
Suns Odds -10
Over/Under 216.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Yes, it’s true. Your eyes are not deceiving you. The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Suns again in Phoenix, a rematch of last night’s battle of the top two Western Conference teams.

The Blazers were without their top two scorers last night, but Portland shooting guard Anfernee Simons could play tonight after missing last game with foot inflammation.

On the Suns’ side, Cameron Johnson left with what appeared to be a non-contact knee injury, which is rarely a good sign. I don’t expect to see him tonight.

Can the short-handed Blazers make it two in row against the Suns and take first place in the West?

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Trail Blazers Fighting Through Injuries

Despite losing Damian Lillard to a calf injury last month, the Blazers have been playing well without their All-Star guard, including last night’s win.

Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups used size to his advantage against the Suns, playing physical lineups to combat the Suns’ edge in offensive talent.

Portland’s bench played especially well. Drew Eubanks, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson all scored in double figures, joining starters Justise Winslow, Jusuf Nurkic, Shaedon Sharpe and Jerami Grant (who scored a game-high 30 points).

However, the Blazers squandered a 10-point halftime lead as Monty Williams eventually adjusted to the Blazers game plan and Devin Booker came alive offensively.

A fully-healthy Blazers squad beat the Suns on Oct. 21 in their first meeting of the season. The Blazers won and covered and it took a 20-point overtime to push on the total of 224.

It’s tough to break down this Blazers team without the presence of their two best players, which is why monitoring Simons’ status will be key.

Suns Need to Start Faster

The Suns came out of the gate flat last night and their energy took a blow after Johnson’s injury five minutes into the game.

This game was a tale of two halves. The Blazers played good defense, pressuring the ball and playing good help defense that forced the Suns into an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers.

The Suns are currently fifth in TOV% (55.2), according to Cleaning the Glass. The Blazers also had 17 turnovers, but one of the reasons the Suns are such a good team, is due to their ability to hang onto the ball and prevent turnovers. The Blazers, meanwhile, have succeeded this season despite being just 28th in TOV% (16.6).

Another interesting wrinkle to this game was the On/Off numbers for each team’s first and second units. While I don’t take an abundance of stock in plus/minus, it can paint at least part of a picture of how a player is meshing on their team.

For the Suns, their only non-starter with a positive differential, was Aussie big man Jock Landale. For the Blazers, their only starter with a positive differential was Winslow. That’s not to say that all Portland’s starters were bad and all of Phoenix’s bench was bad, however it does give a sense of which units were working and which ones need tweaking.

And I expect Suns head coach Monty Williams to do some tweaking ahead of tonight’s game.

Trail Blazers-Suns Pick

Tonight will be the last meeting between these two teams for the regular season. This current back-to-back situation is more like the start of a playoff series. Coach Williams will look to make adjustments, and since they won’t have the chance to prove themselves until next season.

I expect the Suns to come out guns blazing to start the game and avoid the season series sweep, especially after coming off a loss to a shorthanded Blazers squad that were 12.5-point underdogs.

Pick: Suns 1H -6 (-115)