Nov. 21, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) handles the ball during the game against Portland Trail Blazers player Nicolas Batum in the first half at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 114-87. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Phoenix Suns(11-15) vs. Portland Trail Blazers(12-12)

The Phoenix Suns have won their last 4 games, their longest winning streak since March of last season. The Suns are set to take on the Portland Trail Blazers tonight and will try to win their 5th straight game which would be the longest winning streak the Suns have had since January of 2011.

The Blazers are currently on a winning streak themselves. Portland has played their last 5 games at home and since a loss on December 8th to the Sacramento Kings at home, the Blazers has won their last 4 games in the Rose Garden. The Blazers have been relatively formidable at home this season with a 8-4 record at the Rose Garden in Portland.

Heading into tonight’s game the point margin is even. The Blazer star forward LaMacrus Aldridge missed the Blazer’s last game against the Nuggets and he’s a game-time decision tonight against the Suns. Portland guards Wesley Matthews, Sasha Pavlovic, Nolan Smith are listed as day-to-day on the injured list, and Portland forward Joel Freeland is listed as day-to-day as well. The Suns currently has no one on the injured list.

Keys to the game: Suns

– Guard the 3-point line. This Portland squad is loaded with gunners with guys like Damian Lillard, Nicholas Batum, and Wesley Matthews. The Blazers are ranked 7th this season in 3-pointers made per game, the Suns need to guard that 3-point line if they don’t want to get burned.

– Get some second chance points. The Blazers are a highly unimpressive rebounding team given their size ranking 24th in the NBA this season in rebounds per game the Suns should look to take advantage of that especially if Aldridge sits out this game.

– Encourage isolation play. The Blazers lack a true pass first point guard, as good as Lillard may be he’s looking for his shot first. The Blazers rank 27th in the league in assist per game, and the Suns should continue to let Portland go one on one whether Aldridge plays or not.

Keys to the game: Blazers

– Fuel the truck as in fuel Lillard. Even with LaMarcus Aldridge in the line-up Lillard is still arguably Portland’s best offensive weapon. Lillard’s ability to attack the paint and shoot the basketball seems more veteran like than rookie like. Lillard is the key to Portland’s success on offense tonight and if Aldridge is out of the line-up they need to get him some looks early.

– Contain the Phoenix bench. The Blazers bench isn’t going to carry a team to victory but with solid defenders like former Sun Ronnie Price and rookie Meyers Leonard coming off that bench, the Blazers can certainly contain the Suns “Super-Subs”.

The X-Factor

– LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge hurt his ankle and missed the last game when the Blazers played the Nuggets. With a relatively shallow depth chart, so much of the Blazers offensively and defensive schemes are built around Aldridge. If Aldridge plays the Blazers will have the upper-hand in this game given it’s being played in the Rose Garden, but if Aldridge sits this may prove to be a golden opportunity for the Suns to extend their winning streak and at the same time end the Blazers’.

Match-Up Of The Night!

– The spotlight will be on Goran Dragic and Damian Lillard. Both guys share a similar playing style and in terms of PER(Player Efficiency Rating) Dragic’s is higher but in terms of just flat-out stats, Lillard is having a better season. Whether or not Aldridge will suit-up tonight Dragic has to contain Lillard, and by contain I mean hold him to less than 20 points. To put it in prospective, the Blazers are 6-2 when Lillard scores 23 points or more.

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Tags: NBA Phoenix Suns Portland Trail Blazers

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