Time: 7 p.m. MST
Radio: 620 KTAR
A true first test should await the Phoenix Suns in Portland following their drubbing of Maccabi Haifa on Monday. Jeff Hornacek’s team faces the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night hoping to capture the same tempo from the preseason opener. Portland lost its first preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers in a 89-81 outcome where neither team shot above 37 percent from the field.
Will the Suns impose their style on the Blazers?
It won’t be as easy to run against a Trail Blazers team that includes an athletic perimeter of Damian Lillard, Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum. And it won’t be as easy to score inside against LaMarcus Aldridge, if he’s healthy enough to play, and former Suns center Robin Lopez. At the same time, Portland had better not shoot as poorly as it did against Los Angeles if it wants to keep Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic out of transition.
Phoenix will have to push the pace in other ways Wednesday night, regardless. Its 49 fastbreak points from the preseason opener came because of tipped passes and turnovers forced against an inferior team. It should come down to will more against the Blazers.
Can the Suns knock down the three-point shot?
The one striking problem with the Suns against Haifa was the poor three-point shooting. Phoenix hit just 5-of-17 shots from behind the arc and it’s, unfortunately for them, not a fluke. This team isn’t good at three-point shooting, but it’ll have to keep defenses honest if it wants to pick up some surprising victories this season. Hornacek’s offense calls for quick, reactionary swinging of the ball that should loosen defenses. And dump-downs to the bigs should lead to kick-outs. The open threes will be there, but Phoenix must knock them down.
Which big men impress?
The starting center matchup might be the most appealing for Suns fans. Lopez actually grabbed 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes against an athletic Clippers frontcourt two days ago, something that would’ve been a night to remember during his days in Phoenix. Can Marcin Gortat take it to his old practice-mate?
Additionally, Markieff Morris will start out against Aldridge — if the forward returns from a quad injury — or former Kansas teammate Thomas Robinson. The Blazers also have young big man Meyers Leonard coming off the bench, giving Hornacek a chance to use his wealth of big men against a true NBA frontline.