When: 7:00 p.m. AZ time
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena
TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Radio: 98.7 FM
With the Suns clinging to a .500 record and depleted due to injuries, the fun of seeing how this team handles being “punched in the mouth” is over. They need wins. Fortunately, the Wizards present a pretty easy opportunity to get one.
While Washington surprisingly has been one of the best offenses in the NBA so far, with Ricky Rubio back in tow, the Suns should be able to keep up and let their defense do the trick late in the game. It’s hard to map out the trajectory of a specific game, but you have to feel good about the Suns’ ability to score if Rubio is healthy.
On to the Wizards.
112.0 ORtg (4th) - 115.8 DRtg (29th) = minus-3.7 NetRtg (23rd)
Projected starters: Isaiah Thomas, Bradley Beal, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant
These Wizards look a whole like the Suns of the past few years, with a dynamite scoring star (Beal) surrounded by an incredibly young supporting cast. The biggest difference is that they can shoot the lights out, plus Thomas and Ish Smith are better play-makers than the Suns had at point guard the past couple years.
Look for Beal to keep it going. The eighth-year guard is scoring 29 points per game on 57 percent true shooting. Bryant is up to his usual hijinks cleaning up the garbage and using elite functional strength to fly in for putbacks and post-ups.
The young role players are exploitable. Hachimura and Brown can fade out of games, while guys like Jordan McCrae and Moe Wagner are good but not great. C.J. Miles isn’t going to beat you.
Washington is also on the second night of a back-to-back after playing in Denver on Tuesday. Their legs might not be under them. So long as the Suns can avoid hot shooting nights from Thomas, Wagner and Davis Bertans and Beal doesn’t score more than 30 or 40, this should be a win.
109.6 ORtg (14th) - 107.2 DRtg (13th) = plus-2.4 NetRtg (12th)
Projected starters: Rubio, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Dario Saric, Frank Kaminsky III
The Suns are getting back to full strength. Not only will Rubio buoy a broken offense, but Ty Jerome, who was called up from Prescott Valley on Wednesday morning, should help as well. With Tyler Johnson out of sorts and Elie Okobo difficult to trust, the Suns need more options. Jerome gives them someone who can run the offense, find his own shot, and make open looks.
A less important but more fun question is if we will see Jalen Lecque tonight. The rookie was called up alongside Jerome, and if he’s active, it will be his NBA debut on the active roster. Remember: Lecque’s timeline works differently than Jared Harper. Because Lecque signed a regular NBA contract, he can jump between the NBA and G League willy nilly. Harper, however, is limited to 45 days in the big leagues while the G League season is ongoing.
Expect Cheick Diallo to see more playing time again tonight. I trust his perimeter defense more than Kaminsky’s against the Wizards’ five-out schemes.
As I said above, so long as the offense can get back on track and the defense is sound, the Wizards should be easily taken down.
You already know.
Suns 120, Wizards 110