Something’s gotta give. The Phoenix Suns come in scorching hot, the winners of eight games in their last nine, while Portland’s temperature is nearly as high with seven wins in eight games. Monday brings two of the West’s fastest-rising teams together in Arizona for what’s surely to be a tight, cracking affair featuring plenty of shot-making and talent on both sides of the floor. With a spread of six points, is it worth taking the underdog in this matchup, or is this line truly fair? We’ll tell you where to look at SBR’s top sportsbooks.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns
Monday, February 22, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at PHX Arena
Making it Rain
So, what’s been working for the Suns of late? It’s not exactly what you’d think. Sure, we know this team has some talented scorers, but the Suns have made their mark this season with defense. Led by Chris Paul, the unit ranks fourth in points allowed per game, second in threes allowed per game, and fifth in effective field goal percentage.
That’s all well and good, but the offense is having a moment and it shows on the NBA lines. Over their run of eight wins in nine games, Phoenix ranks second in the NBA with 123.2 points per 100 possessions, a drastic improvement from their eighth-best 113.8 Offensive Rating for the entire season. Conversely, the defense ranks sixth this season with a 109 Defensive Rating against a 110.5 Defensive Rating over the past nine, which is 10th in the NBA.
That’s been due to some red-hot shooting. The Suns lead the NBA over the last nine games with a 43.3% three-point percentage, with six players — including Cam Payne, Chris Paul and Frank Kaminsky — shooting better than 40%. Speaking of Kaminsky, the veteran stretch four has played over 21 minutes per game over the run, even featuring in the starting lineup. The spacing he’s brought has opened things up for the Phoenix offense, which we should keep in mind for our sports betting.
Another strength of the Suns’ has been their ability to lock down the paint. Phoenix ranks 10th for the season, but has been third in the league over the past nine with just 42.4 points allowed per game in the area. Its rebounding rate is also up from 14th to 10th. Both are testaments to the hot play of center DeAndre Ayton and role players like Kaminsky, who have created a clear edge for the Suns down low.
Big Question Mark
Over the course of its last eight games — which have featured seven wins — Portland has been the underdog in just three of those games, but has covered the spread posted by betting sites in all but one, which came on Saturday in a seven-point loss to Washington. Nothing has really changed for the Trail Blazers, whose offense ranks sixth in the league both for the past eight games and for the season in general, they’ve just remained steady.
What shouldn’t go ignored is Portland’s wings. The play of Afernee Simons and Gary Trent, Jr. — both of which are better than 42% shooters from three during the hot streak — has been exceptional. This comes on the heels of Robert Covington’s return from injury, which has added even more depth on the wing and valuable shooting and defense.
The matchup worth watching will surely be team leader Damian Lillard against Chris Paul, who possesses some of the most suffocating defense in the league. For the season, Phoenix ranks fourth against point guards with just 21.2 points allowed per game, according to Hashtag Basketball.
Another interesting battle will go on in the paint. Portland’s Enes Kanter has been fantastic on the offensive glass at times, yet the Blazers still rank just 24th on the year as a whole when it comes to rebounding rate. Phoenix’s prowess down low of late could pose some issues.
Overall, this line is fair to both teams. Phoenix has covered in eight of nine, and an impressive seven of those wins came as the favorites. Bettors have had no qualms with laying points on the Suns lately, and that should continue on Monday. Phoenix keeps it rolling thanks to a decided edge on the glass, and some fantastic shooting against a middling defense.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.