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Preview: The Suns take on the Wizards to begin their playoff hunt anew

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The seeding games in Orlando have begun and our miserable wait for NBA hoops is over.

Washington Wizards v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

What: Phoenix Suns (26-39) vs. Washington Wizards (24-40)

When: 1 p.m. MST

Where: Orlando Bubble

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


Projected starters

Suns: Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Deandre Ayton

Wizards: Shabazz Napier, Troy Brown Jr., Isaac Bonga, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant


Phoenix Suns

Most important about how the Suns looked during the scrimmages is that they got back to the identity that made them great — when they were great, at least — during the 2019-20 season.

An athletic, aggressive defense turned turnovers into easy buckets, and an offense geared around Rubio and Booker converted efficiently in the halfcourt. The team got the ball moving, generated a lot of open 3s, and used Ayton’s roll gravity and the fear teams have of him as a rim protector to their advantage. The performances checked just about all the boxes for how head coach Monty Williams wants this team to play.

That doesn’t mean they’ll win every game or surpass more talented teams, but it’s exactly the type of growth they should hope continues in Orlando. A young group like Phoenix has a real chance to get better during this time, and they’re already on the right track in that regard.

Best of all, they drew the hapless Wizards in game one.

Washington Wizards

What is there to say? The Wizards probably shouldn’t be here. They were a team that blitzed the league with a surprising offense early in the season and banked enough wins to slip in under the guidelines the league established when they designed the Bubble format.

But now, they’re without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, their two best players, both of whom opted out out of injury concern. They are of course also minus John Wall, the All-Star guard who’s missed the better part of 18 months with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.

If there’s anything to keep an eye on when it comes to Washington, it’s their young wing rotation. Between Bonga, Brown, Hachimura and Jerome Robinson, they have a heap of promising prospects (including several first-round picks) who could break out during these seeding games.

I personally love Brown, and think he could be a starter on a good team in the next few years. The Suns nearly had the chance to draft him back in 2018, and he’s a perfect modern play-maker/switchy defender for the spread-out style the league is trending toward. Pay attention to him.

Prediction

Let’s start things off right. The Wizards will struggle to win a single game in the Bubble, and the Suns have some real momentum.

Suns 120, Wizards 110