The Phoenix Suns are currently on a three game win streak that has seen them bounce back above .500 for the first time since they started the season with two wins and one loss. Inserting Devin Booker back into the lineup has done wonders for the offense which has pulled the team up to 7th in the way-too-early playoff picture.
The Suns’ last two games, in Utah against the Jazz, were high-scoring and down to the wire. Phoenix won each game by three points, the second of which is likely an early candidate for game-of-the-year as the Suns pulled out the 140-137 victory in double overtime in contentious circumstances.
There is no doubt this is a completely different team when Devin Booker is on the court. The team has a record of 4-1 when Booker plays this season and averages a league leading 126.6 PPG.
Without him, the team is 3-5 with an abysmal 111.1 PPG. The Suns will look to keep up this efficiency as Bradley Beal has been sidelined for at least 3 more weeks with a lingering back injury which is causing him some nerve issues.
The Suns’ back-to-back games, which start tonight, will be bringing some familiar faces from last year back to the Footprint Center for the first time since their departure.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns – Tuesday, November 21
The Suns face the Trail Blazers for the first time this season on Tuesday night. While the Trail Blazers have struggled to find wins this season, starting just 3-10, fans should expect an exciting game as this game is part of the leagues’ in-season tournament.
The Suns are 1-1 in their in-season tournament games so far and could potentially be knocked out of the tournament if they lose and the Utah Jazz win tonight. Portland will also be eliminated with a loss, so fans should expect the young team to come out playing hard.
If the in-season tournament wasn’t enough to spice this game up, the arrival of the Trail Blazers also means the return of Deandre Ayton to Footprint Center for the first time since he was traded back in September. Ayton has been anything but great for the Trail Blazers this year, averaging just 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 1.5 steals so far this season – a notable drop off from his 18 point average with the Suns last year.
Ayton’s replacement on the Suns, Jusuf Nurkić, has been lackluster to start the season but is still providing the Suns with helpful numbers averaging 10.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists. This is going to be a critical matchup on the court as both centers are looking to prove a point to the Phoenix Suns’ and Portland Trail Blazers’ front offices.
This is also the first game for Drew Eubanks against his former team (excluding their pre-season matchup). Eubanks has been a solid contributor off the bench for the Suns averaging 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 18 min per game so far this season. While the Suns are a 13.5 point favorite to win the game, fans should expect to see some fight from the Portland squad, and with the tournament in mind, this game could be a lot closer than many expect.
Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns – Wednesday, November 22
The Suns will host the Warriors on Wednesday night to close out their homestand back-to-back before heading out on a three game road trip. The Suns started their season in Golden State where they beat the warriors 108-104 in a back-and-forth game that went down to the wire. The warriors defense was able to hold Durant to a measly 18 points in that game, his lowest point total of the season.
Durant’s ex-teammate, Stephen Curry, has been putting together an impressive season so far averaging 30.4 PPG on an insane 68.5 percent true shooting. Unfortunately for Curry and the Warriors, the rest of the team has been struggling to provide enough offensive help for them to close out games. After starting the season 6-2, the warriors have fallen to 7-8.
There is no shortage of ex-teammates in this matchup as this game will also mark the return of future hall of fame point guard Chris Paul to Footprint Center for the first time since he was traded to the Wizards for Bradley Beal in the off season. CP3 has been struggling from the field for the Warriors so far this season, however, he has been providing incredible support elsewhere.
So far this season, CP3 has 115 assists and only 18 turnovers. To put that into perspective, he is leading the league in assist to turnover ratio (minimum of 60 assists) and is in fourth place in total assists so far this season even though he is only averaging 28 minutes per game.
No one else in the top 20 for total assists is averaging less than 31 minutes a game. The Suns opted to move on from CP3 in the off-season with the belief that Devin Booker could fill the role of point guard for the team.
So far, the Suns gamble has paid off as Booker has been an incredible floor general directing the Suns offense to number one in the league when he is on the court. This matchup is bound to be a close one and with all the star power on the court, could turn into a legendary shootout.