The Toronto Raptors are a hot mess early in the season. Tonight they hope to conclude a four game slide against the overachieving Phoenix Suns who sit ninth in the west, but could very well be third if they were in the Eastern conference. The Raptors no longer sit atop of the Atlantic Division as they are tied with the Sixers and sit a half game behind the Celtics (wow, who would’ve thought?). This should be a relatively exciting matchup for Raptor fans as the Suns don’t play much defence, if any; so expect mucho dunks and points.
Cage’s Keys to the Game:
Command the Glass.
The Raptors may not be the biggest team, however tonight they have a size advantage against the Suns. If the Raps plan on leaving with a road victory, commanding the glass will be essential. They need to be physical boxing out and show that every possession counts.
Don’t Lose the Twins
Marcus and Markieff Morris are very good ball players who have seemed to find their stride in Phoenix. The Morris brothers bring energy and are dangerous from all areas of the floor. They are by no means stars, however their intangibles are poised to give Toronto some difficulties. The Raptors have a hard time dealing with above average role players as it is, and tonight they’ll face a team full of them.
On paper the Raptors are the better talent-wise, but the reality is that the Suns play as a much better team than the Raptors. The Raps are on the road in the wild wild West, where wins are hard to come by for any east team not named the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers. No mental lapses this game, and a complete focused effort for 48mins should be all that’s needed to win this game.
The Suns aren’t a team that’s known for their stingy defence. With the likes of Gerald Green and Goran Dragic getting a load of the minutes its safe to say that the Suns’ defence is no where near elite. Good ball movement will get bad defenders out of position a lot easier than running isolations. This should be an up and down game where everyone gets touches,
The Raptors bench needs to come out and ball tonight. That’s the bottom line, after a horrific game against Denver and an embarrarsing collapse as a unit versus the Warriors. In this game Terrence Ross doesn’t have to be relied upon as strictly a “D & Three” guy because the wings should be able to hold their own. Hopefully this turns into a development game, where he has some room to operate.
X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas
Big Val-Nasty should have his way tonight against the big men of the Phoenix Suns. Miles Plumlee and Channing Frye should have their hands full trying to put up with rugged Lithuanian. With Valanciunas’ length and motor he should have the upper hand on whoever has to guard him.