The Toronto Raptors continue their West Coast road trip tonight as they visit the Phoenix Suns. So far the Raptors are 2-1 on this road trip, and a win in Phoenix would definitely help boost some morale.
The last time these two teams met it was over the holidays in Toronto, and the Raptors won in an impressive match. Not much has changed for the Raptors in the month since — it’s still been a little rocky for them. Yet they show signs of consistently, like in their game against Portland the other night.
Good morning fam, hope y’all enjoy the highlights from last night’s DUB— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 29, 2023
Game Highlights | @TangerineHoops
Watch : https://t.co/yupHH8Eex7 pic.twitter.com/ObS1wMoSqU
Unfortunately, O.G. Anunoby has already been ruled out due to a wrist injury he sustained in Friday night’s match against the Golden State Warriors. The Suns on the other hand are still missing Devin Booker, Cameron Payne, and Landry Shamet.
Trade rumours have been swirling around these two teams, mostly surrounding Deandre Ayton, Fred VanVleet, and Chris Paul. We don’t know how much of these rumours are true, or what the Raptors will do come the trade deadline — but if a trade DOES happen between these teams, you’ll get another preview of these players tonight.
The Raptors will play the Phoenix Suns tonight at 9:00 PM EST on TSN.
The team still seems to be holding out hope that they can make a run at the playoffs this season, and until they make any moves before the upcoming trade deadline, they’ll be working with what they got!
So what can the Raptors do to put themselves in a position to win tonight in Phoenix?
One of the most inconsistent things about the Raptors in recent days has been their defence, which is disappointing knowing that they used to be a huge defensive threat.
Last Wednesday in Sacramento they put on a defensive masterclass, yet on Friday against the Warriors, they looked lost. Saturday, despite being on the second night of a back to back, the Raptors looked more cohesive.
It will be harder to stay strong defensively with Anunoby out, but since Booker is still injured as well, the Raptors will have a little less to worry about. The presumed starters — aka Gary Trent Jr, Precious Achiuwa, Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes — will have to keep up the defensive energy from start to finish.
In Portland, they only gave up 44 points in the first half, which was nice to see after they’ve had a habit of giving upwards of 30+ points up in first quarters recently.
Precious Achiuwa played possibly the best game of his career in Portland. He started, with Anunoby out with injury, and ended up scoring 27 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals. He went 11-16 from the field, 100% from the free throw line, and topped it off with a three pointer.
The man put on a show tonight— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 29, 2023
Congrats on your new career-high @PreciousAchiuwa pic.twitter.com/7xVQoD9H2o
Raptors fans have enjoyed seeing the development of Achiuwa since the team acquired him in 2021 as part of the trade for Kyle Lowry. In the 2021-2022 season, he developed as a defender and a shot maker, averaging 9.1 points, 6.5 rebounds.
Unfortunately he has spent a big chunk of this season out with an ankle injury, and has been recovering and trying to get back into perfect shape. He’s still averaged over 11 points per game in January, and the Raptors will need to depend on him going forward no matter what route they go down come the trade deadline.
So many of the Raptors’ loses have come in close game situations, possibly the most frustrating part of all. One thing they can do to avoid this is get off to a good start from tip-off. If they don’t put themselves in a hole, there is less make up to do down the stretch.
Players like Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr will be instrumental. VanVleet did excellently at holding off the Trail Blazers last game when the Raptors lead was in question. They’ll look to him to hit some of those clutch shots for sure.
Gary Trent Jr also has a way of hitting the perfect shot when the Raptors need it most. He’s been playing some of the best basketball of his career lately. If he and VanVleet can have a good night offensively, along with Siakam’s usual good numbers, the Raptors have a pretty good chance
The Raptors will try to make their road trip record 3-1 Monday night in Phoenix. Catch the game at 9 PM EST on TSN.