Team Records: TOR: 24-9 (10-6 Road); PHX: 19-16 (8-7 Home)
Where to Watch: Sportsnet National, 8:00 PM EST
What looked like a promising 6-game road trip, with the Raptors showing enough quality to potentially finish above .500, has taken a bit of a turn for the worse. After dropping the opener to Chicago before heading out West, the Raptors regrouped to defeat the Clippers and Nuggets on a back to back.
Sitting pretty at 2-1, most would have been satisfied with one win out of the last three. Unfortunately, the manner in which the Raptors lost the last two games has left a bad taste in fans' mouths. Both losses were disappointing in completely different ways -- against Portland, the Raptors led almost the entire game, but just didn't have enough left in the tank and lost in OT. Against Golden State, the Raptors lost by 20+ for the first time since the 2012-2013 season (you read that right, the Raptors never lost by 20+ ALL of last season). Now facing the Suns, the Raptors will try to salvage an even 3-3 record out of this road trip before heading back to the ACC for an extended home-stand.
Back on November 24, the Raptors beat the Suns 104-100. In that game, Phoenix made a frantic comeback in the 4th quarter and gave Toronto fits with how well they space the floor. For most of the season, Phoenix has struggled to find the form that carried them to 48 wins last season. Most notably, Goran Dragic's numbers are down across the board, and Channing Frye's absence is certainly felt on offence. However, they've gone 7-2 in their last 9 games, and are currently clinging on to the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
The Raptors have a good chance of winning this game if Kyle Lowry overcomes Phoenix's potent point guard rotation, and Jonas Valanciunas finds a way to dominate the interior enough to keep Phoenix honest with their small-ball lineups. Defending the perimeter shot will be a key as well.
On to the comments, and Go Raps!