Sometimes the best thing you can have happen when you have fallen into a rut (another one) is to face a club that you haven’t beaten in a long time. It poses even more of a challenge than just getting a win poses on most days for your organization, causing the team to try to find something deep down. For the Raptors, that something is going to have to come from deep, deep, down, because they haven’t beaten the Suns in 5 years.
After an impressive loss (yeah, that’s right) to Boston, the Raptors have since come out and laid down for the Bulls and the Pacers, with the Pacers loss actually much worse than the final result made it appear. While you have to appreciate that the Raptors were almost able to pull off the franchise’s greatest comeback ever, it still shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Raptors were absolutely miserable in the first three quarters of the game. When you have to go to Anthony Parker as your PG, you have officially said, “This team needs help.” When AP runs the point better than either of the two PGs you have on the bench, you officially have team issues.
So here come the Suns, who aren’t quite what they used to be, but are still a quality team. You wouldn’t know it if you had seen the Suns team who lost to Minny on Friday night, with Nash going 3-8 from the floor and the Suns looking out of synch, but it’s not like they are going to have to be running on all cylinders to get a win at the ACC.
The Suns are starting a 6-game road trip, which means that this is the game that they are going to want in order to get off on the right foot. The first trip of a road trip is always the most important no matter who you are playing, luckily for the Suns right now, the Raptors are first up. Then again, maybe the Suns aren’t so lucky having to face the Raptors first…
If you are the Suns and you are coming off a loss to Minny at home, then you walk into the ACC to start a road trip and the Raptors are able to upset you without their starting PG (because the Raptors absolutely by no means should put Calderon back in the lineup yet), you might start questioning the team’s heart, their dedication to winning.
Speaking of dedication to winning, one has to think that a deal will be coming soon from the Raptors. While I still don’t think the Raptors should be too trigger happy, if something is going to happen, it should probably happen sooner rather than later. If the Raptors are serious about this season, then the Marion trade will probably go down, but from my perspective, I just can’t see that trade happening soon with JO recently coming off of an extended injury layoff. The Raptors still might be better off just playing this season out and then going into the offseason looking to change things up a bit.
3 in the Key
1. The turnovers can’t happen. The Suns don’t quite run like they used to, but they are still quick enough and are able to finish effectively, so any Raptor turnovers are going to turn into points.
2. Keep it close early. If the Suns are able to get out and control the game early, Nash will effectively shut things down by managing the clock and his team in the second half.
3. Swing the ball. The Raptors need to get a little more ball movement going to create some open looks for their shooters. A few more open looks could be the key to getting a few more wins.