The best part about tonight's game against the Wiz is that the Suns get a warm-up game to adjust to the loss of Barbosa before next weeks tough schedule.
It really isn't the Wizards fault. They've suffered as many injuries to key players as any team in the league. Here's their starting roster for tonight's game as provided by our ever-hardy friends over at Bullets Forever:
|Tonight's Projected Starters|
|Player filling in for injured starter
|Player filling in for injured starter
|Player filling in for injured starter||SF||
Grant Hill drinks Sprite!
|The Last Man Standing
|Player filling in for injured starter||C||The Big Tweet|
But as Coach Gentry said, "every NBA team is scary." Some are just more scarier then others and tonight's falls more in the Care Bears category on the scary meter.
Just who are those "Player filling in for injured starter" guys?
At point guard you have Mike James who I've heard referred to as the absolute worst starting point guard in the NBA today. Unfair? Perhaps but if you've got another candidate for that title I would love to hear it.
Backing up James (who is backing up the permanently injured Agent Zero Playing Time) is Javaris Crittenton. I guarantee you somewhere a Wizards blogger is thinking about this match up with Goran and licking his lips. Well, bring it on. Let's see these two youngsters battle it out. Chasing the playoffs aside, sometimes it is these little matchups within the game that provide a tremendous amount of entertainment. Or not.
At shooting guard the Wiz run out one of the better players in the game who is a prime example of what happens when you are really good on a really bad team. Caron Butler lets not forget was traded to the Lakers in the Shaq deal and had the misfortune of being made superflous due to the presense of Mr. Kobe. At 6-7, 230lbs he's built exactly like Kobe and has a similar game except that he's not Kobe. He's a poor man's Kobe which made him the perfect fit for the poor man who own the Wizards. That's just some bad luck right there for Caron because this guy is an NBA all-star stuck in NBA hell.
It will be important for our own high-scoring potential SG to try and play some solid defense on Caron which you might recall didn't happen last time these teams met when Butler scored 28 point in a rather competetive game.
Oops, scratch all that. Butler is dealing with a hamstring problem and didn't play last night against the Nuggets. No word on his status for this game. That leaves the starting duties to two rather large fellas Dominic McQuire and Nick Young. Both of these guys are really small forwards but they are being pressed into service as guards due the long list of Wiz injuries.
McQuire has earned some fans with his play. Bullets Forever breaks down the numbers behind his +20. He's known as a defensive stopper which would worry me if the Suns were reliant on JRich putting up 30 every night to win a game.
Behind McQuire is Nick Young who is highly athletic in an Al Thorton kind of way. Glancing at his game log, you see he's also wildly inconsistent in an Al Thorton kind of way. Once again, I am looking forward to our young backup Tucker playing their Young backup. Tucker will have his hands full with this one and if the game is close we very well could see Grant Hill take this assignment in a rotation that includes Hill, Barnes and Dudley on the floor together.
Starting small forward for the Wiz tonight is unclear. They ran out Blatch and Jamison together last night but that was against the bigger Nuggets front line of Nene and K-Mart. Thinking this through, I would more expect to see Young and McQuire both start this game against the Suns who don't have the kind that same kind of beef up front.
The power forward and another great player lost on a poor team is Antwan Jamison. He put up 27 points last night against the Nuggets and is a true professional and great ball player. He's a bit undersized at the power forward for some matchups but against the Suns will see Matt Barnes most of the night. Matt will need to bring his defensive workboots to this game and hopefully will be more focused on Jamison then on jacking up three's.
Darius Songalia and Lou Amundson will hook up a bit as will Dudley. Frankly, when you look at the front lines of both these teams roles and positions are somewhat meaningless.
Shaq vs Pecherov, Blatch and McGee
The only way this ends well for the Wiz is if they petition the league to play 6 men and are able to have a permanent double team on Shaq. Baring that, we will likely see an outcome similar to Shaq's Wednesday game against the Sixers Dalembert / Ratliff / Speights combo that gave up 26 points on 67% shooting. In other words, domination.
The Wizards with the 6-11 Blatch, 7-0 McGee and 7-0 Pecherov certainly can try and outsize the Suns and muck things up by running any two of those three out together. They will need to platoon Pecherov and Blatch on Shaq though but we very well could see them try and exploit McGee's size advantage over the Suns by playing him with Jamison and one of the two centers.
They have the potential to play both big and athletic and if they only had a point guard they could cause trouble for the Suns in the open court like the Andre Miller-led Sixers did. They don't and they won't.
Look for the Suns to continue to go to Shaq in the half court and try and get Blatch and/or Pecherov in foul trouble. Dalembert actually played Shaq pretty well early in that last game but the Suns were patient and once he picked up his second foul it was all over. He backed off enough to let Shaq get in rythym. I would look for the same game plan tonight for Phoenix.
Focus the defense on stopping Jamison and Nick Young (assuming Butler doesn't play) and run the Seven Seconds or Shaq with the same kind of Nash/Shaq balance we've seen over the past three games.
The Wiz played a competitive game last night in Denver and managed to spread the minutes pretty well over their 9 available players. Jamison only logged 29 minutes (and scored 27 points) so they should be rested.
The Suns however have only played one game in the last five days and as we all know are hungry for wins.
A good start by the home team should spell and easy and quick end to this one.
Suns win 117 - 101