Phoenix At Toronto
When: 1:00 PM
ET, Sunday, March 16, 2014
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
After struggling to keep opponents off the scoreboard over a rough 10-game stretch, the Phoenix Suns found their tonic in the form of the rebuilding Boston Celtics. The task becomes a little tougher Sunday afternoon as the Suns travel to Toronto to face the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors. Phoenix had surrendered triple digits in 10 consecutive games - seven of them defeats - before putting together a strong defensive effort in an 87-80 win over Boston.
Unlike the patchwork Boston lineup already looking ahead to next year, the Raptors have plenty to play for in 2013-14 - specifically, its first playoff appearance since 2008 and a shot at a division title nobody thought they would contend for at the start of the season. Toronto moved 10 games above the .500 mark with a 99-86 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. Toronto sits near the middle of the pack in scoring while allowing just 96.8 points per game.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), SNET (Toronto)
ABOUT THE SUNS (37-28): Phoenix is happy to have versatile guard Eric Bledsoe back in the lineup - and he looks like he has already returned to form. Bledsoe erupted for 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against the Celtics in just his second game back in the lineup after missing the previous 33 with a knee injury. His return should allow the Suns to preserve veteran point guard Goran Dragic, who racked up the minutes in Bledsoe's absence and said following a recent loss to Cleveland: "Everything hurts. (But) I'm going to fight through it."
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (37-27): Toronto hasn't had to worry about a key player returning from injury, but it did get a much-needed strong showing from Jonas Valanciunas last time out. The second-year Lithuanian center racked up a season-high 23 points and added nine rebounds as the Raptors used a critical 12-0 fourth-quarter run to fend off the Grizzlies. "It was not easy," Valanciunas told reporters after the game. "They're playing very good basketball, especially in the paint. We battled really hard and showed that we can win."
1. Phoenix prevailed 106-97 at home in their previous encounter Dec. 6.
2. Dragic averages 7.4 points in 19 career games (seven starts) versus the Raptors.
3. Valanciunas hasn't recorded a double-double in his last 14 games.
PREDICTION: Raptors 104, Suns 100
Stats and Records
Toronto Off vs
100.3 Points For
102.8 Points Against