The Phoenix Suns make their lone visit to Canada on Friday with a game against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. It's a good opportunity for a win, with the Raptors just 3-13 on the season and struggling mightily in the second half of games.
Raptors fans probably wish they had the promotion that the Suns are reportedly sharing with fans next week: a satisfaction guarantee. According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, the Suns are offering fans at the Dec. 6 game against the Dallas Mavericks their money back if they aren't satisfied with the game experience that night.
The Suns could use a pick-me-up after a humbling 40-point loss to the Detroit Pistons in Detroit, another team they should have defeated. The Suns shot just 34 percent from the field and committed four technical fouls in the third quarter as they lost their form and composure quickly in a second-half that got away from them fast.
The Suns are 1-2 on the current Eastern road swing with the toughest games of the trip coming up in New York and Memphis. Their chances in Toronto could be even better if the Raptors don't have forwardAndrea Bargnani, who is dealing with an ankle injury and may not play. Bargnani averages 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Suns in his career.
Swingman Landry Fields is also day-to-day with a sore wrist.
Game time: 5:00 PM Arizona time
Radio: Arizona Sports 620
The Suns are undefeated in the past seven games at Toronto, and have won all but one of those game by 12 or more points. Talk about owning a team, the Suns won 14 in a row in this series before the Raptors stunned Phoenix 99-96 at the US Airways Center last January.
Toronto's DeMar DeRozan vs. Phoenix's Shannon Brown
DeRozan is rapidly emerging as one of the most athletic and dynamic two-guards in the NBA, and his 18 points-per-game average suggests he's aggressive going to the basket. That means a defensive challenge for Brown.
Chances are these two Europeans have faced each other across the pond or in FIBA tournaments and are probably familiar with each other's play. Valanciunas is the bigger man and could look to establish his post presence down low, but he'll be challenged to keep up with the savvy and more NBA-experienced Gortat. This could be a matchup the Suns can exploit.
Player to watch:
Kyle Lowry has his chance to run his own team as the Raptors' starting point guard, but he's struggled since returning from a six-game injury absence on Nov. 20. Lowry hasn't made more than 40 percent of his shots in a single game in the past six, and only made a combined 6 of 20 shots in his last two games. The Raptors need more from Lowry, who was a major offseason addition. But the way the Suns have defended the perimeter this season, Lowry could get some open looks from outside and break out of his shooting slump.