The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA tips for a massive Western Conference duel between Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers.
13:00 (AEDT), Tue 23rd Feb @ Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
History: Played 261: Suns 137 V Trail Blazers 16
Last meeting: March 10, 2020: Trail Blazers 121 d Suns 105 at Moda Center
Final Thoughts: Two of February’s form teams – and bona fide Western Conference top-four contenders – square off for the first time this season.
The Suns are fourth in the West with a 19-10 record, winning eight of their last nine games. Since bottling a 24-point lead against the Nets at home last week, they have romped to big road victories over the Pelicans (132-114) and Grizzlies (128-97).
Chris Paul finished with 19 assists as Phoenix overturned an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit in New Orleans. The Suns drained a franchise-record 24 three-pointers to sink the Grizzlies – including five each to Devin Booker and Cameron Payne, and 4-for-5 shooting from behind the arc for Mikal Bridges and Paul.
One spot back in the West standings, the 18-11 Blazers have won eight of their last 10 games. But their six-game winning streak came to an end via an unlikely 118-111 defeat to East also-rans the Wizards.
CJ McCollum remains sidelined but MVP contender Damian Lillard continues to shine for Portland. The linchpin has scored at least 31 points and racked up 10-plus assists in his past four games. Meanwhile, Gary Trent Jr has done a solid job slotting into the Blazers’ back-court.
The Trail Blazers have won 12 of their last 14 against the Suns. But last season’s four clashes were split two apiece – a home and away victory each.
Phoenix’s 19-10 ATS record is the second-best in the league; Portland are a solid 16-13 against the line. The Suns are 10-5 at home – but the Blazers have an identical record on the road.
The Blazers are ranked third in the NBA for points per game and Lillard is on a tear. But the Suns’ top-four defence and Chris Paul’s influence should prove the difference at home in what shapes as a high-quality clash.
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