PHOENIX SUNS (38-36) at PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (47-25)



2017-03-30

The Blazers look to win their fourth straight game when they host the struggling Suns Monday.



The Suns hosted the Thunder on Sunday and lost 109-97 as 2.5-point favorites. Phoenix has lost three straight games both SU and ATS and has failed to score 100 or more points in four straight contests. This is a team that wins games because of its offense and it will need to start putting up points or it will miss the playoffs once again. The Blazers, on the other hand, have now won three straight games after beating the Nuggets 120-114 as 9-point home favorites. These teams have met three times this season and the Blazers are 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS in those contests. They blew out the Suns 108-87 in the only home game theyve played against the team this season and are 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS when hosting Phoenix over the past three seasons. The Suns, however, are an impressive 48-25 ATS in road games over the past two seasons. They are also 29-16 ATS in road games after playing a game as a favorite in that time. The Blazers, meanwhile, are 14-1 ATS after three straight wins by six points or less since 1996. SG Brandon Knight (Ankle) and SG Marcus Thornton (Toe) are questionable for Phoenix and SG Wesley Matthews (Achilles) is out for the season for Portland.



The Suns have struggled recently and theyll need to string together a big winning streak or they will miss the playoffs this season. PG Eric Bledsoe (17.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.4 RPG, 1.7 SPG) has done everything he can to will his team to victories, averaging 20.2 PPG, 5.6 APG, 4.6 RPG and 1.4 SPG over the past five contests. Bledsoe will need to have a good game against the Blazers on Monday. He struggled with just 13 points and seven rebounds on 5-for-20 shooting from the floor against Portland last Friday and cant afford to do it again in this one. PF Markieff Morris (15.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG) and SF Marcus Morris (10.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG) combined to rack up 34 points and 21 rebounds in that game against Portland. The two of them were able to find their shots offensively, but neither had an answer for LaMarcus Aldridge on the defensive end. One of them will need to step it up and defend at a high level on Monday. SG Brandon Knight (17.0 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.4 SPG) returned from his eight game absence to face Oklahoma City on Sunday. He was awful in the game though, finishing with just three points (1-for-10 FG, 0-for-6 3PT) and four assists in 22 minutes. He is questionable in this game, but hell really need to find his stroke if he plays. He is not a great defender, so his presence can hurt the team when he is not knocking down shots.



The Blazers have gotten themselves on track recently, winning three straight games after a five game losing streak. PF LaMarcus Aldridge (23.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.0 BPG) was a monster against the Nuggets on Saturday, pouring in 32 points and also grabbing 11 boards in 35 minutes of action. The last time he faced the Suns, he could not miss in crunch time and was ultimately the reason Portland came away with a road victory. Hell need to continue to use his size to his advantage against a small Suns frontcourt. PG Damian Lillard (21.1 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG) struggled against the Suns last game, finishing with just 11 points (4-for-15 FG) and four assists in what was a very off game for the All-Star. Lillard is just 8-for-26 over the past two games and needs to find his stroke soon because the playoffs are quickly approaching. SF Nicolas Batum (9.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.1 SPG) had just five points in 32 minutes the last time he faced Phoenix. He did, however, have nine rebounds and five assists in that game and followed it up with 15 points and seven assists in a win over Denver the following night. Batum is averaging 17.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 5.7 APG in three games against the Suns this season and will need to be more effective as a scorer than he was in the most recent meeting. C Robin Lopez (9.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.5 BPG) was big in the victory over Phoenix Friday, finishing with 12 points, 10 boards and a block in 29 minutes. Hell need to continue to protect the rim moving forward.

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