Phoenix Suns vs. Toronto Raptors Pick & Prediction MARCH 7th 2024

The Phoenix Suns, fresh off a scintillating win, will now look to avoid a letdown against one of the NBA’s weaker teams.

After taking down the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, the Suns aim for another victory when they host the beleaguered Toronto Raptors on Thursday night.

Phoenix sits in the sixth position in the Western Conference but is just a half-game ahead of the Sacramento Kings, who hold the top play-in spot.

The 117-107 overtime victory against the host Nuggets could be one of those key wins the Suns look back on. Phoenix blew a 22-point, third-quarter lead and needed a 3-pointer from Kevin Durant with 26.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

Durant took over in the extra session with eight points as the Suns outscored Denver 15-5.

“You look at the totality of the season, obviously the end result is always important, playing in the playoffs, trying to win a championship, those are important,” Durant said. “But you celebrate little moments.”

Durant scored 35 points despite shooting just 14 of 34 from the field. Grayson Allen knocked down eight 3-pointers while scoring 28 points.

“Saw a few go in early and got more aggressive with the ones I was taking and they kept going in,” Allen said.

The Suns stunned the Nuggets despite not having star guard Devin Booker (ankle) for the second straight game. He will remain out on Thursday.

Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic had 12 rebounds against Denver after setting a franchise record with 31 during a 118-110 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.

Phoenix had dropped four of six games prior to the win over the Nuggets.

Toronto is looking for a two-game sweep of the season set after posting a 112-105 home win on Nov. 29. Durant scored 30 for the Suns and Scottie Barnes led the Raptors with 23.

Barnes is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery on Monday to repair a broken bone in his left hand. With the Raptors on pace to lose 50 games, the Toronto All-Star could be shut down even if he recovers in time to return this season.

The Raptors sustained another blow Tuesday when center Jakob Poeltl underwent surgery on his left pinkie finger. He was injured Sunday during a 111-106 home win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Without Barnes and Poeltl on Tuesday, Toronto wasn’t competitive and was whipped 139-98 by the visiting New Orleans Pelicans. The 41-point margin represented the worst home loss in Raptors history.

Recent acquisition Immanuel Quickley could feel the problem.

“Effort and energy have to be at a very high level, and we didn’t do that,” Quickley said.

Quickley scored 17 points for the Raptors, who shot just 38.7 percent from the field and 13 of 44 (29.5 percent) from 3-point range.

Toronto led 21-19 past the midway point of the first quarter before the game quickly began slipping away.

“They caught fire at the 3-point line,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said of the Pelicans. “We started subbing and went to our bench guys and it quickly went south from there.”

Injuries are piling up for Toronto, which resides in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. Guard Bruce Brown (knee) will miss a third straight game on Thursday, and guard Ochai Agbaji (knee) departed the New Orleans game in the third quarter. Agbaji was listed as questionable to oppose the Suns.

The Thursday contest is the first of a four-game road excursion for the Raptors.

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping