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Suns/Blazers Gm 3 Preview
by Matt Fargo - 04/21/2010
The Numbers Portland opened as a 1.5-point favorite over Phoenix for Game Three with the total set at 205. That over/under is higher than both games played in Phoenix which is rather surprising as the under has been more frequent in Suns road games and Blazers home games. The Skinny Portland is feeling pretty good about things after leaving Phoenix with a series split and heading home for the next two games. Obviously the Suns are not feeling as good but they should have some confidence following a huge 29-point win on Tuesday. The Blazers have won three of the five meetings this season including the lone game played at the Rose Garden. Portland came back from a 15-point deficit in that game as it outscored the Suns 35-21 in the final period and held on for the three-point win. Game One losers have gone on to win best-of-seven series only 21 percent of the time which did not bode well for the Suns which extended its playoff run to a dismal 1-7 going back to 2007. It gets a lot better for the home-court-advantage teams when they win Game Two for a split however as those teams have gone on to win the series 63 percent of the time. With or Without Roy Not many people were giving Portland much of a chance following the loss of Brandon Roy, who is sitting out with a torn meniscus in his knee. With the series extended at least to five games, there is actually a chance Roy could see some action in the later games because the surgery went so well. This would be huge for the Blazers and if they can get a split at home, it would give home court back to Phoenix but it would buy them some more time. During the regular season, Roy missed 17 games in January and February and the Blazers went 7-10 in those games. Surprisingly, Portland is 2-1 in games against the Suns with Roy riding the pine. Andre Miller has filled in great and he lit the Suns up for 31 points and eight assists in Game One. However, the Suns gave Grant Hill the lead defensive assignment on Miller instead of Jason Richardson. Not only did Miller find the going tougher, Richardson seemed energized at the other end. Tempo Wins The pace of the game has determined who has won so far. In Game One, Portland controlled the tempo and even though there were more shots attempted by both teams, it went to the Blazers advantage. In that first game, the Suns had just four fast break points but they had seven by the middle of the first quarter in Game Two on their way to 17 fast break points overall. The key for the Blazers is to shorten the game and that means playing their normal style of basketball. On the season, they attempted the fifth fewest shots in the league at 78.7 per game which is right around their average through the first two games here. It will be the defensive end however that makes the difference. Phoenix has put up an average of 88.5 shots per game in this series and on the season, the Blazers are allowing only 77.5 attempts, the second fewest in the NBA. It is safe to say that they will have a much better chance of knocking off Phoenix if it can come anywhere near that average. Trends The home team is 6-2-1 ATS the last nine meetings while the favorite is 19-7-2 ATS the last 28 meetings. Phoenix has done very well against the better teams in the league, going 14-4 ATS against teams with a winning percentage between .600 and .700. The Blazers are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games after allowing 100 or more points in their previous game. The ‘Under’ is 5-1-1 in the Suns last seven games following a double-digit win while the ‘Under’ is 6-0 in the Blazers last six games following a double-digit loss.