Mar 12, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek talks with guard Eric Bledsoe (2) in the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Suns face Raptors in early Sunday game

Mar. 23, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Jerryd Bargnani (5) reacts on the court after having words with Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (not pictured) at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Raptors 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Mar. 23, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Jerryd Bargnani (5) reacts on the court after having words with Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (not pictured) at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Raptors 114-106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

 

The Phoenix Suns escaped with a win 87-80 in Boston against the Celtics Friday night. The game was decided in the last 40 seconds when the Suns went on a 7-0 run to close out the game. The Suns held the Celtics to just 30.9 percent from the field on 29-94 shooting. The Suns used Bledsoe along with Dragić in the lineup and outscored the Celtics 24-16 in fast break points.

The 37-28 Suns travel to Toronto to face the 37-27 Raptors Sunday morning in the early game. The Suns are 4-6 in their last 10 games and Friday night’s win against the Celtics was the first win on their short three-game road trip to the east coast. The win is the first since Eric Bledsoe came back from an injury sustained earlier in the season. The combination of Dragić and Bledsoe in the starting lineup ultimately proved too much for the Celtics as the Suns outscored them in in fast break points with their quick backcourt duo. Toronto will be a tougher matchup since the Raptors are 8-2 in their last ten games winning the last two games against the Grizzlies and Pistons.

Key Matchup:

Goran Dragić versus Kyle Lowry. With Bledsoe back in the lineup that has meant fewer double-teams for Dragić. Before Bledsoe was inserted back in the lineup teams were focusing their efforts on not allowing Dragić to beat them but now with Bledsoe back in the lineup defenses have to account for both offensive threats. For Toronto, Lowry has been an integral part of the Raptor’s success. Lowry is averaging 18 points, 8.5 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game in the last 10 games. Toronto currently sits in third place in the Eastern conference.

Key stat:

Opponent’s points per game. The Raptors are fourth in the league in OPPG, averaging 96.8 point allowed per game. The Suns will need to have a big day shooting from the field if they expect to come away with a win against this stingy defense.

What the Suns offense needs to look for:

Get Dragić and Bledsoe involved early in the game. Dragić was 5-7 with 11 points in the first half against the Celtics Friday night and this proved to be the catalyst for Dragić’s success against the Celtics and Rondo.

What the Suns defense needs to look out for:

Lowry. Lowry has been the Raptor’s best choice late in games and if this game is close in the fourth the Suns should make sure to stifle Lowry and force the ball to someone else on the team.

Raptors sleeper to have a good game:

Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez had an unbelievable plus 19 in the game Friday night against the Grizzlies. Vasquez was 6-11 from the field and a solid 3-5 from beyond the arc. His contribution in that game includes five rebounds, six assists and three steals.

Prediction: The Suns beat the Raptors 106-100.

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Tags: Basketball Eric Bledsoe Game Previews Goran Dragic Kyle Lowry NBA Phoenix Suns Sports Suns Suns Vs Raptors Toronto Raptors

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