They say “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Tonight at the Moda Center, the Blazers need to serve it up to the Phoenix Suns, with some hot shooting and gritty defense on the side.
The Suns absolutely feasted on the Trail Blazers when the two teams met on opening night. The Suns gorged themselves in the paint, and devoured the Blazers with their fast paced offense, on their way to a 104-91 beatdown. Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic looked like all-world guards. Miles Plumlee, who seldom played for the Indiana Pacers last year, played like an experienced vet.
The Blazers looked like the team that was in rebuilding mode. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 60 points, but the rest of the Blazers were horrible. To make matters worse, the Suns embarassed the Blazers without last weeks Western Conference Player of The Week, Markief Morris, who was suspended.
Looking back, this loss doesn’t seem as bad as it did at the time. The Phoenix Suns are clearly exceeding expectations this year with a 5 and 2 record. They do not look like the rebuilding team that many thought they would be this year. Their two losses came against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the defending Western Conference Champions, San Antonio Spurs. The general perception of this team has been altered in the first seven games of the season.
Meanwhile, the Blazers are also off to a 5 and 2 start with wins over two Western Conference playoff teams from last year- the Spurs and the Denver Nuggets, and are riding a 3 game winning streak into tonights contest. Opening night against the Suns was the first time the Blazer starters had all been on the floor together and it showed. Their starting lineup seems to be playing more comfortably together with every passing game, and first year Blazers, Mo Williams and Dorell Wright are starting to discover their roles coming off of the bench for this team.
So what does this mean for the first rematch between these two teams tonight? I expect a hard fought and scrappy game at the Moda Center. The Blazers will have the home crowd on their side and they will have plenty of motivation to prove that they belong in early playoff discussion. On the other side, the Suns want to show that they have arrived as well. I have a feeling that Markeif Morris will be the star for the Suns tonight, trying to abuse the Blazers in the paint, just like every other team has done to them this year. Robin Lopez needs to play like he has the past two games and all of the Blazers need to show up for this one.
I expect the Blazers to come out on top in this rematch, fueled by the anger of their poor performance the first time they faced the Suns, combined with the energy of the home crowd. Catch the rematch against the Suns and all home games by picking up your Trail Blazers tickets here!