Portland Trail Blazers vs Phoenix Suns: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ

When: Thursday, January 24th, 9:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): NBC Sports Northwest, Fox Sports Arizona | Rip City Radio 620, Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

Portland Trail Blazers (Away)

Head Coach: Terry Stotts {All-Time 416-407 | ATL, MIL, POR}

The Portland Trail Blazers are knocking on the door to the top three in the Western Conference. They’ve channeled their first-round exit frustration of the previous year into their current season and have been impressive. With a record of 29-20, they are just a game back of the Oklahoma City Thunder in third place.

In their last ten matches the Portland Trail Blazers have accumulated a record of 7-3. It has pushed them ahead of the Houston Rockets and finds them with home-court advantage in the playoffs were it to start today. While they’ve been at the benefit of their schedule – facing off against five sub-.500 teams – wins over the Jazz, Hornets, and Rockets are encouraging signs.

The Phoenix Suns are a bottom-feeding team and the Blazers should be able to dispatch them easily. They are however focused and when engaged well organized. It is a Suns team that pushed the Toronto Raptors to the limit, until they lost to a buzzer beating layup. So if the Blazers want to take home a win they can’t overlook the home team.

Phoenix Suns (Home)

Head Coach: Igor Kokoskov {All-Time 11-38 | PHX}

The Phoenix Suns are certainly trending in the wrong direction. With a record of 11-38, the Suns do not manage to provide much opposition to any one they face off with. Despite inspiring performances against the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets, the Suns have still come up on the wrong end of the score line.

Going 2-8 in their last ten matches is nothing to draw moral victories from. They’ve now lost five in a row, most recently dropping both legs of a home-and-home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. In that game star player Devin Booker was ejected, surely feeling concerns about his discontent with a losing team.

The Suns take on a talented Portland squad with weapons at every position. At the same time, it is currently unknown if star centre DeAndre Ayton will play against the Portland Trail Blazers due to an ankle injury. Regardless of Ayton’s health, it will take a team effort to stop the high-scoring duo of Lillard and McCollum.

What’s At Stake?

The Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns are a classic Western Conference matchup. From the days of Drexler and Barkley to today, in 224 games the Phoenix Suns lead the Portland Trail Blazers in the all-time series 120-104.

A win for the Blazers would keep them in fourth, but put them within a half game of overtaking the Thunder for third in the West.

A win for the Phoenix Suns would keep them last in the conference considering they are nine games back from the next team in the table.

Questions to answer

Will Damian Lillard ever slow down?

Is Devin Booker tired of the Suns?

We are going to compare the Portland Trail Blazers and the Phoenix Suns in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

Lillard has been the Blazers’ MVP so far this season

Most valuable, most talented, most productive, Lillard checks all of those boxes for the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard is yet to miss a game so far this season and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down as we head into the All-Star Break.

Lillard is leading the team in scoring (26.1) and assists (6.1) per game. It’s safe to say that as Lillard goes, so do the Portland Trail Blazers. He is an incredible leader and his dynamic offensive abilities open up numerous avenues for him to score or create for his teammates.

Teams have been able to slow the Portland Trail Blazers when they load up on Damian Lillard. McCollum has proven to be a good complementary piece, but as of yet hasn’t showed that he can lead the team at the same level as Lillard. If Lillard ever hits a bump throughout the season, the Blazers will need someone to take a big step up.

Booker was ejected in a loss to the Wolves

There has been rumours about Devin Bookers discontent with the Phoenix Suns. Booker has served the Suns faithfully for the last four years but the Suns have shown little to no improvement in the win column. After getting ejected in a match against the Wolves, it’s clear that Booker is frustrated with the Suns’ plans as well.

Booker is a competitive player and with his skill level would be an immediate star with any moderately successful team in the NBA. Unfortunately he is going into a summer where his contract will be bumped up to max-status but will still be playing for a perennial lottery team.

Booker has even improved his game every season. This year, he’s nearly doubled his assist average to a current 7.0 assists per game. While he has struggled from three this season (32%), he’s shown the maturity to contribute in other areas as much as possible. The clock is ticking on the Suns plans. With no clear path to competitive status, the story of where Booker’s future home will be should be on the mind of many going into the All-Star break.

Portland Trail Blazers Roster Notes

C Caleb Swanigan – Day To Day (Knee) – Swanigan did not play in Friday’s game (Jan. 18) against the Pelicans.

Phoenix Suns Roster Notes

C DeAndre Ayton – Day To Day (Ankle) – Ayton did not play on Tuesday’s (Jan 22) game.

C Richaun Holmes – Day To Day (Foot) – Holmes was out for Tuesday’s (Jan 22) game.

Head-to-Head: Jusuf Nurkic vs DeAndre Ayton

Jusuf Nurkic

Center | 7-0, 275lb (213cm, 124kg) | Bosnia & Herzegovina | Exp. 5 Years

15.0 PPG | 3.3 APG | 10.4 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 1.5 BPG | 2.3 TOV | .507 FG% | .125 3P%

DeAndre Ayton

Center | 7-1, 250lb (216cm, 113kg) | Arizona | Exp. Rookie

PPG | APG | RPG | SPG | BPG | TOV | . FG% | . 3P%

It is a matchup between heavy hitters when the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Phoenix Suns. Bosnian Jusuf Nurkic has been putting together an admirable season for the Blazers while DeAndre Ayton is as impressive as he’s been touted to be since he’s entered the league. These two young centers will face-off and try to dominate the paint for their team.

While his numbers remain similar to previous seasons, Nurkic has improved his all around game this season. By developing into more than just a low-post option or a roll-man, Nurkic has upped his win shares on the team to 4.9 and a team best box plus-minus of +5.4. His versatility has been key to the Blazers success, as he doesn’t have to score in order to be effective for the Blazers.

It is almost difficult to believe that DeAndre Ayton is just 20 years old. The young Bahamian is an absolute giant on the court but has the feet of a wing player. While he maintains considerable strength, the obvious strength increase from the NCAA to the NBA has force Ayton to the high-post more than usual. If he can take advantage of mismatches in the post, the rookie sensation can cause a lot of trouble for the Blazers.

Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Portland Trail Blazers favoured over the Phoenix Suns by 8.5, with an over/under of 109.