The Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers play only three times this season, with meeting No. 1 on tap for Wednesday night at the US Airways Center, part of a full pre-Thanksgiving feast of NBA action.
This is a game between two teams moving in opposite directions at present. The Suns are 4-7 and have lost three straight; the Blazers are 5-5 with three consecutive wins. Neither team seems headed for a Western Conference playoff spot when the long regular season is done, but there is a new sense of hope for the future with the way rookie point guard Damian Lillard has started his career, while despair and frustration reign in Phoenix with a Suns team that has some internal problems, it seems, between center Marcin Gortat and head coach Alvin Gentry.
The Suns do play better at home, though, and with a brutal six-game road trip to the East Coast after Wednesday and Friday games in their own building, the Suns need to string to together a couple of wins just to keep pace in the Pacific Division race.
Game Time: 7:00 PM
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Arizona/ Arizona Sports 620
Projected Starting Lineups:
PG - Goran Dragic vs. Damian Lillard
SG - Jared Dudley vs. Wesley Matthews
SF - Michael Beasley vs. Nicolas Batum
PF - Luis Scola vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
C - Marcin Gortat vs. J.J. Hickson
Lillard vs. Dragic: The Suns are going to have to test the rookie Lillard, and so far, he's passed most of them. Dragic will have to find a way to fight through screens and stick with the quick Lillard, who can take the ball to the basket and shoot well from 3-point range. If not Dragic, then Sebastian Telfair, who might be effective off the bench on defense in this game.
3-0: The Suns' record in the past three meetings at home against the Blazers.
What to Watch For:
If Beasley posts up Batum: Beasley has a two-inch height advantage on Batum, so let's see if the Suns try to work a low-post game with Beasley. Batum is a better all-around player and will make it difficult for the slower Beasley on the defensive end, however. Also: It will be interesting to see how Scola steps out to try to defend Aldridge's pretty good mid-to-long-range jumper, and if he can get a hand in Aldridge's face.
The Bench: The Blazers go with backup guard Ronnie Price, rookie forward Meyers Leonard and big man Jared Jeffries, primarily, which should be an advantage for the Suns, who look to be a little deeper.