As expected both teams started by doing a whole lot more scoring than defending. Somehow, this Wizards team is able to create offense even though you’d be hard-pressed to remember everyone’s name with a roster full of G-Leaguers.
Though the Suns started small with Cameron Johnson in the first unit, Dario Saric was the first sub into the game, leaving Phoenix with the same big lineup pretty early in the game. Even with Saric, the offense moved well and created good space.
The same aggressive Devin Booker we’ve become accustomed to in Orlando was there again, taking five shots in the first six minutes and scurrying around without the ball.
Continuing to track the rotation, the next subs were Frank Kaminsky and Cameron Payne, certainly better for the spacing than the days when Cheick Diallo and Jevon Carter were getting into games in the first quarter.
Even as the Suns got used to a new rotation, the Wizards’ bizarre style was its own challenge. Every player on the roster has the ultimate green light to (try to) break the defense down and get their own shot, which makes defending them just strange. Yet it also allowed the Suns to put out poor defensive lineups and not worry too much.
Johnson made his first four buckets and started with 10 points, playing 10 minutes in the first quarter. He’s fixing to keep that starting job.
Cam hits all 4 of his shots for 10 points in the first.— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) July 31, 2020
The Suns as a whole shot 65 percent in the period.
It's been a fast and furious 1st quarter!— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) July 31, 2020
Suns up 38-31, heading to the 2nd. pic.twitter.com/VSSlMj6zfo
Early in the second quarter in transition, Deandre Ayton took his first three. It was the same type of look he’s passed off hundreds of times over the course of his career already, but this time, he let it fly. Even though he missed, for Ayton, it’s all about the confidence to take those when he’s open.
The same goes for Mikal Bridges, who got a wide-open triple shortly after Ayton’s attempt. Bridges missed too after a hot scrimmage schedule. After losing a little bit of energy on offense, the Suns let Washington take a 2-point lead midway through the second period.
Bridges responded just as you’d want him to a few minutes later when, after a Payne steal and dish, Bridges caught the ball with great rhythm and knocked down the three. It put Phoenix up, 49-46.
The Suns used that shot to turn on a 21-5 run that put them up 15 heading into the half, led by Booker.
As analyst Eddie Johnson announced when the Wizards took the court to open the second half, Washington ran the same play repeatedly, and scored well. Again, Brooks’ style of giving his players the freedom to take the ball in themselves made it tiring for the Suns to contain the young Wizards.
Even so, Washington showed who they were: A weakened team without enough firepower to really compete in the Bubble, even against the Suns, the team with the second-worst record of all the participants in the restart.
Phoenix pulled away and ultimately won, 125-112.
A couple other notes from this one:
- When all the bigs are healthy, you see the vision for this front court. Even though Kaminsky and Saric aren’t who you might like to be defending in space, the play-making and shooting from every guy really helps the offense.
- Getting up more than 30 threes was the focus during the regular season, and it should stay that way in Orlando. They only chucked 32 on Friday, with most coming in garbage time. Booker and Johnson in particular should be put in position for open shots from deep more frequently.
- Phoenix can’t turn the ball over 17 times against good teams and win.