While the Celtics, Bucks and Sixers are starting to separate themselves from the pack in the Eastern Conference, it’s truly wild out west. Just three games separate the third seed from the tenth seed in a big mushy middle for the Western Conference, with the Kings at the top and the Jazz at the bottom. If there’s one through line to this Toronto Raptors road trip, it’s that every win or loss is shaking things up for their opponent in a pretty significant way.
Enter the Phoenix Suns. Winners of five of their last six games, the Suns are one of the teams in that mish mash on an upward trajectory — albeit while sitting in play in position right now. They’ve managed to navigate a long period of time without Devin Booker and have key wins in the last week against the Grizzlies and Nets, as they position themselves well to get healthy and make a late season push.
Tonight, we’ll see if the Raptors can spoil their streak. Toronto has started this seven-game swing on solid ground, beating the Blazers and Kings with a loss to the Warriors sandwiched in between. The defense has looked imperfect, but better for long stretches, as the Raps have at least strategically been on point (there’s still the odd flub in switches and help).
The focal points tonight will be Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, the latter of whom will be looking for a bounce back after scoring just four points and posting a -18 the last time these two teams met in December, a 113-104 win for the Raptors.
The challenge going forward for the Raptors, unfortunately, is they’ll have to do all this without their defensive fulcrum. Nick Nurse’s pregame update confirmed that OG Anunoby’s wrist injury is worse than we might’ve expected.
Anunoby (left wrist sprain) will be out for the rest of the road trip, per Raptors.— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) January 31, 2023
On the bright side: Dalano Banton back! No word whether he’ll play tonight, though.
Dalano Banton should be available tonight. Raptors might send some players back to 905 after tonight, but yet to decide.— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) January 31, 2023
No change on Phoenix’s long-term injuries, as all of Landry Shamet, Devin Booker and Cameron Payne will be out. As for Jae Crowder, he might finally get traded and have something productive to do — that’s nice!
Here’s the rest of the game details. Get into the comments and enjoy this one!
Where to Watch:
TSN, 9 PM ET
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa
Phoenix Suns – Chris Paul, Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Torrey Craig, Deandre Ayton
Toronto Raptors – OG Anunoby (wrist – out), Otto Porter Jr. (out forever)
Phoenix Suns – Landry Shamet (foot – out), Devin Booker (groin – out), Cameron Payne (foot – out), Jae Crowder (not around – out)