This will be an important game as the Suns start a tough three-game stretch including home dates with the Nuggets and Spurs, as all three of these teams rank among the jumbled mess ahead of Phoenix in the West.
In Portland, the Suns face a Blazers squad they’ve already beaten twice this season and thus can clinch the head-to-head tie breaker with a victory in this one.
With these teams a half-game a part as it is and likely to stay close all season, that could be huge.
The Suns will likely feed the post, as LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla and in the last contest Greg Oden have shown no signs of being able to slow down Shaq and Amare.
Amare has averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds in the first two while Shaq has gone for 17.5 points and 12.5 boards with a 17-rebound game thrown in. The Suns need to win this one inside-out.
Steve Nash has also played well against Portland, with averages of 18 points and seven assists per contest, and Brandon Roy has shot his way to 23 points per game – and will be very happy to see Raja Bell not in a Suns uniform anymore.
The game could be an emotional affair for head coach Terry Porter, who had his jersey retired in Portland on Tuesday, but he’s done quite well when facing his former employers. The Suns are 8-1 against teams Porter has played or coached for, with the lone loss coming to Miami, and only 7-9 against teams he has no connection to.
The Suns will likely try to push the pace as they have in the last week or so, as they are 13-2 when scoring 100 points, losing just the short-handed game to the Lakers and the Devin Harris game against New Jersey.
But that won’t be easy against a Blazers club that plays the slowest pace in the NBA.