Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Phoenix Suns
Records: Raptors (40-15), Suns (22-33)
Where to Watch
Date: Friday, Feb. 21
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TSN (Canada), FSA and NBA League Pass (USA)
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
On Friday, the Raptors and Suns meet for the first time this season.
It'll be the first game for both teams coming out of the All-Star break. For the Raptors, they'll be looking to bounce back from a loss to the Brooklyn Nets that ended their franchise-best winning streak. For the Suns, they'll be looking to keep their postseason dream alive with a much-needed win.
The Suns enter Friday's contest 6.5 games out of the playoff race. They face an uphill battle to end their 10 year postseason drought, but a victory against the Raptors would help close the gap between them and the Memphis Grizzlies, who currently have the eighth-best record in the Western Conference.
Hoping to lead them to victory is Devin Booker, who was named as Damian Lillard's replacement by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Booker is in the midst of a terrific season with averages of 26.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.2 rebounds per game on a career-best 49.6 percent shooting from the field.
The Suns have been a completely different team with their All-Star on the court - they go from averaging 113.6 points per possessions to 98.6 when Booker takes a seat on the bench.
When the Raptors and Suns played against each other last season, it was Danny Green who took on the responsibility of guarding Booker. Since he's no longer on the team, OG Anunoby will likely draw the assignment of trying to slow down the 23-year-old.
During the All-Star break, Nick Nurse made it sounds as though Marc Gasol was ready to return, but he has since said that they are going to "wait a little bit" before re-inserting him into the lineup. His defence would have been useful against Deandre Ayton, who is expected to return from an injury of his own against the Raptors.
The No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Ayton is averaging 18.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per game this season. He does the bulk of his scoring in the post, where Gasol is at his best as a defender.
The Raptors will be without Marc Gasol (left hamstring) and Dewan Hernandez (right ankle). Norman Powell (left finger) and Patrick McCaw (illness) are listed as doubtful.
Frank Kaminsky (right patella) is out for the Suns. Deandre Ayton (left ankle), Aron Baynes (left hip), Elie Okobo (left ankle) and Dario Saric (left ankle) are each probable.
- Ricky Rubio has been one of the best facilitators in the league this season. He's creating 21.6 points per game with his assists, putting him behind only LeBron James, Trae Young, Luka Doncic and Ben Simmons for most in the league.
- Deandre Ayton generates 21.9 percent of his scoring in the post, where he's among the league leaders in scoring.
- Marc Gasol has been one of the more effective post defenders in the league this season, ranking in the 91st percentile by allowing only 0.65 points per post-up possession.
- Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. could get some love for Most Improved Player at the season's end. He's having a career year with 18.9 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting from the field and 35.9 percent from 3-point range.
- According to Tankathon, the Raptors have the 11th-hardest remaining schedule in the league. The Suns have the eighth-hardest.
Last Time They Played
Date: Jan. 17, 2019
Score: Raptors 111, Suns 109
Raptors: Serge Ibaka - 22 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assists, 1 block
Suns: Devin Booker - 30 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds
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