Season Series: Raptors 0-1
The Toronto Raptors will try to go a perfect 3-0 when they close out this three-game homestand on Sunday afternoon against the Phoenix Suns.
In Toronto’s previous meeting against Phoenix (on Dec. 6), the Suns overwhelmed the Raptors with their speed and handed them their fifth consecutive loss. That was the team’s longest losing streak this season and moved them to 6-12.
In that loss, Markieff Morris led the way with 23 points for the Suns. Amir Johnson scored 22 points for the Raptors. It was the last game for Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray before being traded to the Sacramento Kings.
Heading into Sunday’s game, the Raptors are looking to go 11 games over .500 and extend their division lead to 4.5 games over the Brooklyn Nets. The Suns are fighting to make the postseason in an ultra-competitive Western Conference where they are in ninth place, 1 ½ games behind eighth place Memphis.
What To Watch
Toronto’s defence against a lethal Suns offence: The Raptors have won four straight games at home and the last nine opponents to come through the Air Canada Centre have been held to an average of 91.3 points in regulation. The Suns have one of the most enjoyable offences in the league and average more than 105 points per game. Toronto head coach Dwane Casey has been preaching the importance of getting things right defensively in this postseason push and the Phoenix will put the Raptors to the test.
Goran Dragic vs Kyle Lowry: Lowry has been on an incredible roll as of late. Scoring, rebounding, assisting, drawing fouls on his defenders, Lowry is doing it all. While Lowry was considered an Eastern Conference All-Star snub, Suns guard Goran Dragic — a former teammate of Lowry’s in Houston — just missed out on being named as an All-Star himself thanks to playing in a jam-packed Western Conference. Dragic is averaging 20.6 points and 6.1 assists per game for Phoenix this season and, like Lowry, is playing at such a high level it’s hard to believe that the two were not in New Orleans in February.
Eric Bledsoe in uniform: Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe will suit up for his third game since missing 10 weeks rehabbing from knee surgery. One of the most explosive guards in the league, Bledsoe has looked good in his first two games back, though he has missed eight of his nine three-point attempts.
– “It takes a lot of pressure off me. When Kyle and G are out there handling the ball, now we’ve got three guys out there who can create shots for each other or get to the basket, penetrate, kick out. It makes it a lot easier.” – DeMar DeRozan on playing with the double point guard backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez
– “Kyle is playing at a high level. To me, Kyle is an All-Star. He’s scoring at a high rate, he’s making all of us better. He’s making me better as a player. His intensity level, his professionalism is unbelievable. I’m glad I’m part of this team and I’m glad I can be his teammate and learn because I still consider myself a young guy. It’s always fun playing with him. It’s very natural. It’s spontaneous. We’ve got a good chemistry.” – Greivis Vasquez on playing alongside Kyle Lowry
– “They’ve got a bunch of physical guys. P.J. Tucker, the Morris twins, they really try to get into you, body you. Bledsoe plays a physical style of defence. I think we really have to be physical on the offensive end as well as the defensive end. I think that’s our next step, being able to do that consistently.” – Dwane Casey on what he needs from his team against the Suns
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Suns: Goran Dragic (G), Eric Bledsoe (G), P.J. Tucker (F), Channing Frye (F), Miles Plumlee (C)
Raptors: Patrick Patterson – right ulnar collateral sprain (out)
Suns: Emeka Okafor – herniated disc (out), Leandro Barbosa – left hand fracture (out)
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Suns
|2013-14 AVERAGES||2013-14 RANKINGS|
Last Time They Met: Raptors 97, Suns 106 - Dec. 6th, 2013