The Toronto Raptors return home on Sunday to take on Eric Bledsoe and the struggling Phoenix Suns. After defeating the Washington Wizards in dramatic fashion on Saturday night the Raptors have recorded four straight wins. This is their longest win streak since they started the season 5-0. The Suns on the other hand are in the midst of an ugly four-game losing streak in which three teams have scored 120 points or more. The game tips off is shortly after 6:00 pm Eastern time.
Keys To The Game
Attack The Rim
Tyson Chandler has been battling some early season injury woes and has seen limited floor time for the past couple games. He played only four minutes of the Suns’ 135-116 loss to the Golden State Warriors so odds are he won’t see extended minutes against the Raptors who are also without their starting big man. As such the Raptors should continue to attack the rim the way they have been as Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan have attempted more free throws than any other duo in the NBA with a combined total of 255 trips to line.
Make Them Pay on Offense
The Suns are one of the NBA’s worst defensive team and have been allow opponents to score 105.4 points per game, the sixth worst mark in the league this season. The Raptors, who boast the fifth most efficient offense in the NBA, need to exploit the Suns’ lack of coordination on that end. To make matters worse Phoenix own the leagues second worst opponent field goal percentage. Toronto is coming off of one of their worst shooting performances in recent history against the Wizards so this is great opportunity to rebound.
Contain Bledsoe and Knight
The Suns have a very potent small-ball backcourt with Eric Bledsoe who is averaging 22.7 points per game and Brandon Knight who is averaging an impressive 21.9 for himself. Containing these two are critical for ensuring a win. These two guys are a two headed monster that are very effective at both attacking the rim and launching shots from deep. If the primary perimeter defenders of Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, and Corey Joseph can stifle the effectiveness of these two then the Raptors have a good chance at success.
X Factor: Luis Scola
Luis Scola is the game’s X Factor because in the absence of Jonas Valanciunas he is the only realistic inside scoring option the Raptors have left. He’s sure to be fired up for this game as players usually are when they square off against a former team. This version of the Suns in particular lacks any say defenders to negate his craftiness on the block. He usually abuses younger defenders and there will be no shortage of those tonight.