On the Lookout: Battle of elite guards in Trail Blazers-Suns showdown

February 22, 2021 , 5:33 PM ● Yoyo Sarmenta

Dame Lillard and the Trail Blazers hope to return to the win column when they face Chris Paul and the Suns in Phoenix.

A flurry of star power, high-level basketball, and top-notch entertainment are all rolled into one super matchup as the Portland Trail Blazers face the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday (10:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines). It’s a showdown between two of the best teams in the West, anchored by two elite guards in Damian Lillard and Chris Paul. 

The Suns are fourth in the tight Western Conference with a 19-10 record. They have won 11 of their last 13 games, including back-to-back blowouts versus the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies. Two seasons ago, the Suns didn’t even reach 20 wins, and now with just 29 games under their belt, they already have a chance to exceed that total. 

One of the catalysts of the Phoenix uprising is none other than All-Star guard Chris Paul. The 35-year-old is as savvy as ever in using his wit and basketball IQ to outmaneuver younger and stronger players. He’s racking up 17.1 points per game, shooting 49.5 percent from the field, and dishing out 8.5 dimes. In the victory against the Grizzlies, Paul surpassed Oscar Robertson in the NBA’s All-Time Assists list, moving up to sixth place. 

Meeting Paul on the other side of the fence is Portland’s Damian Lillard. A gunslinger with insatiable range and a proven assassin at crunch time, the five-time All-Star is single-handedly pushing the Trail Blazers to the top half of the Wild West. The Trail Blazers are just a step below the Suns at fifth place with their 18-11 record, winning eight of their last 10 contests. 

Despite coming off a disappointing loss at the hands of the Washington Wizards where they saw their six-game winning streak snapped, the Trail Blazers remain a deadly team on any given day. Even Lillard’s subpar shooting of 10-of-30 from the field couldn’t take away his 35-point, 12-assist effort. Even during his off-shooting nights, he still puts his team in a position to win. 

As the Suns and Trail Blazers cross paths, expect Paul and Lillard to take their teams to great lengths to win. Of course, the matchup features other elite players like Carmelo Anthony for Portland and Devin Booker for Phoenix, but the point guard battle will take precedence. 

Lillard is at the peak of his powers. He is young and versatile with 3-point weaponry that’s nearly in the same breath as Steph Curry. Paul, meanwhile, is still called Point God for a reason. Though his mortal skills have diminished over the years, his deity status remains unmatched. The battle of the guards takes center stage in the valley of the Suns. 
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