Suns Take Away Trail Blazers Offense, Cruise to Win

The Portland Trail Blazers were unable to advance against the Phoenix Suns on the second night of a straight baseball series on Saturday. The Suns dominated the action and the ground from the first point, summarily eliminating Portland 102-82.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 24 points on 9-20 shooting. Jerami Grant led the Blazers again, but his 4-10, 14-point performance was a far cry from the 30 he stuck on the Suns on Friday night. Phoenix watched him like a hawk, giving him zero daylight and his team zero chances, absentee starters Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons as well.

If you missed the action and want a quarter-by-quarter recap, you can find ours here. After that, here are some observations from the evening.

The suns return the favor inside

The Suns seemed determined to pull a page out of Portland’s book tonight. They forced the ball into the paint, through Deandre Ayton first, then off the disc when Ayton got into foul trouble. They tried to move Portland’s biggest defenders, asking them to make decisions and communicate. As is typical of this young Blazers team who are quite inexperienced with each other, Portland did well on the first manual move, but as soon as they went down they couldn’t recover. . Ayton’s advantage over Nurkic was a pain, but neither were the Suns’ aggressive wing drives, forcing Portland to double up, which then forced rotations the Blazers simply weren’t adept at.

Phoenix was also set for a repeat of Friday’s Portland attack. They knew the Blazers wanted to get inside, so they went down immediately, almost preemptively, on any penetration or inside pass. They didn’t believe Portland’s jump shots would beat them. They also accounted for many annoying blocks and flights. Portland’s shots were much more contested than last night. This slowed them down, making it harder to generate points.

The Suns finished the game with 44 points in the key against 32 for Portland. Phoenix also tallied 14 blocks and forced 18 turnovers. These three numbers tell almost all the story you need. It’s not that Portland’s offense was bad. This almost never happened.

three for the suns

A side effect of Phoenix’s commitment to the inside was a number of easy flats to perimeter shooters for the standing three. They shot 11-30 from distance tonight, but that number was spoiled by a poor third period. When establishing their lead, it looked like the Suns couldn’t miss: head shots after inside body shots delivered by their inside offense.

ball movement

The connection between inside and outside for Phoenix proved fatal for Portland. If the Blazers could have focused on one area of ​​the floor, their length and athleticism might have paid off. But for most of the night, Phoenix was able to make all the passes he wanted. When cross passes go smoothly, you know your defense is too localized and not paying enough attention.

Not so iso

As we mentioned last night, this version of the Blazers’ pitches has virtually no players capable of initiating and ending isolation moves. The Suns noticed it too. They sent double teams against Jerami Grant, a somewhat predictable pick considering his last 30 game. He got through those tough spots pretty well, but it took his score away from him.

Phoenix did just as well when they backed off a bit, challenging the initial playmaker, then challenging anyone else to grab and finish with a man on them. If the Suns played straight and Portland’s first option didn’t work, none of them would.

Without muscle

The Blazers beat the Suns last night, both on defense and on the glass. Phoenix evaded the first with his ball movement. They also didn’t let Portland get away with the latter. Rebounds read 44-40, Phoenix for the game. The Suns also carried an 11-8 advantage in the offensive boards. Without offensive rebounds for second scores, plus an overbearing defensive rebound fueling the break, Portland’s offense was stuck in the half court. See above to see how well it worked.


The score of the box

The Blazers travel to Miami to face the Heat on Monday with a 5:30 a.m. Pacific tee time.

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