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Phoenix Suns seek return to .500 against the Washington Wizards

The Suns are a surprising 3-1 since their coaching change

NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns at Washington Wizards

Time: 4 pm (Phoenix time)

TV: Fox Sports Arizona

Radio: 98.7 FM


It’s a game day. I’m Deadpoolio. That can mean only one thing: It’s Holidays with Deadpoolio! Today we have a biggie on the docket with All Saints Day, a day of observance where Catholics honor, quite fittingly, all saints, from Saint Peter to Drew Brees. Who dat?

And I haven’t forgotten about you pagans out there because today is also Samhain. Did you remember to cast the bones of your slaughtered livestock into the communal fire? If not, you still have some time between now and sunset. Oh, and if you’re being pestered by any mischievous Aos Sí, be sure to wear your clothes inside out. They hate that.

After beating the Brooklyn Nets last night, the Phoenix Suns (3-4) now travel down south approximately 228.1 miles to face the Washington Wizards (4-2).

Wizards Update

The Wizards last played Oct. 29 against the Sacramento Kings — a game they effectively won by halftime by leading 63-32. Their only two losses have come against the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime. Washington has not lost yet at home.

Washington is helmed by four-time All Star John Wall, who is once again putting up terrific numbers. His 21.7 points and 10.3 assists lead the team; however, his scoring efficiency has been down early in this season. Bradley Beal, the other man in the backcourt band, is averaging 19.5 points per game himself but is going through efficiency struggles similar to Wall. Otto Porter Jr., who secured a long-term deal with the Wizards in the offseason, has lived up to his contract, putting up career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (7.5), shooting over 50 percent from both the field and 3-point range, and leading the entire NBA in steals per game (2.7). Marcin Gortat does his usual yeoman work inside (12.3 points, 9.7 rebounds), and Kelly Oubre has been starting in place of the injured Markieff Morris. Jodie Meeks, Mike Scott, and Ian Mahinmi are the major players off Washington’s bench.

The Wizards possess one of the NBA’s best offenses, scoring 111.7 points per contest, yet they do so with middling percentages from the field, behind the arc, and from the free throw line. They do get a fair number of steals, though, coming into the game tied with the Utah Jazz for second in the league with 10 per game. Beyond steals, Washington reverts to an average defensive team on the season — except for their 3-point defense, which is top 10 in the league at 32.7 percent.

Team Leaders

Points: John Wall (21.7)

Rebounds: Marcin Gortat (9.7)

Assists: John Wall (10.3)

Suns Update

Phoenix enters this game off a back-and-forth win over the Brooklyn Nets that saw the team continue to fight through mistakes they weren’t fighting through to start the season.

Over his last two games, Devin Booker has carried the lion’s share of the scoring burden, putting up 34 points against the Portland Trail Blazers and 32 points yesterday against the Nets. Even better, he’s shot 50 percent or better in both games and a combined 60 percent (9 of 15) from behind the arc. T.J. Warren (20 points, 11 rebounds) and Mike James (24 points, five assists) both shook off rough games to be major contributors against Brooklyn. Alex Len (15 rebounds) and Tyson Chandler (13 rebounds) did work on the glass once again in performances that are becoming commonplace, and Dragan Bender looks more comfortable in his role on the court by the day.

The defense continues to look good under interim head coach Jay Triano. Since he’s taken over, no opponent has shot better than 44 percent from the field and two of Phoenix’s four opponents have shot below 30 percent from 3.

Team Leaders

Points: Devin Booker (22.1)

Rebounds: Tyson Chandler (9.7)

Assists: Devin Booker (4.3)

Injury Report

Eric Bledsoe (Suns): yo-yo wrist (OUT)*

Brandon Knight (Suns): torn left ACL (OUT)

Davon Reed (Suns): torn left meniscus (OUT)

Alan Williams (Suns): torn right meniscus (OUT)

Sheldon Mac (Wizards): torn left Achilles (OUT)

Markieff Morris (Wizards): sports hernia/suspension (OUT)

*he’s rockin’ that baby, though

Game Preview

Washington has swept the season series from the Suns for two straight seasons, but none of those wins by the Wizards has been by double figures. Coming in on the second game of a back-to-back doesn’t improve Phoenix’s odds of reversing that trend, especially against a rested Wizards team, but the Wiz have let their guard down before, blowing a 10-point 4th quarter lead against the Lakers, for instance. The Suns will have to dig down deep against a fresh and talented opponent, but they’re young enough to do it (well, most of them are).

Key Matchup

The Phoenix Suns vs. John Wall

Wall can hurt a team in several ways, but he’s most dangerous when he’s getting his teammates in on the act. Considering his less-than-stellar shooting averages to start the season, the Suns need to be conscious collectively of taking away his passing lanes. If Wall wants to heave 30 shots, let him. Just don’t let him involve his teammates.

Deadpoolio’s Neat-o Stat of the Game Preview (brought to you by basketball-reference.com)

A win tonight would put the Phoenix Suns at .500 for the first time since Nov. 23, 2015.

(Well, technically, I suppose it would be for the first time since before their Nov. 25 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans dropped them below .500. Oh, whatever. You know what I mean. It’s been a while.)

All stats courtesy of NBA.com and basketball-reference.com.