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Game Preview: Phoenix looking to bounce back in D.C.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (41-10) vs. Washington Wizards (24-27)

When: 5:00 PM AZ Time

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

Watch: Bally’s Sports AZ

Listen: 98.7 FM


The Phoenix Suns go into the nation’s capital in search of a new winning streak. After a disappointing loss in Atlanta put an end to the the latest double digit streak for the team - their second of the season. As a team that has said - more than once - that they hate losing more than they like winning, the Wizards will likely have to work some magic to stop the Suns for the second night in a row.

And if that alone wasn’t enough of a challenge, Washington will be missing their biggest star in Bradley Beal. However, they have just put an end to their own six game losing streak after an impressive win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, and all without Beal and Thomas Bryant. Bryant may be able to return tonight. As for the Suns, Shamet and Payne are still out, along with Frank, Saric and Nader.


Likely Starting Lineups

Suns

  • Chris Paul
  • Devin Booker
  • Mikal Bridges
  • Jae Crowder
  • Deandre Ayton

Wizards

  • Spencer Dinwiddie
  • Aaron Holiday
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Thomas Bryant

Injury Report

Suns

Landry Shamet (OUT - ankle) ; Cameron Payne (OUT - wrist); Frank Kaminsky (OUT - knee); Dario Saric (OUT - knee); Abdel Nader (OUT - Knee).

Wizards

Bradley Beal (OUT - wrist)


What to Watch For

Mikal Bridges: Adding to his more than impressive but all too familiar defensive performances, Mikal Bridges has been on a tear recently, scoring 20+ points for three games in a row now - the first such streak in his career. Tonight - with Bradley Beal out and Washington’s three guard starting lineup - I do expect him to be able to focus even more on scoring, taking advantage of his size inside along with his cutting prowess to another great offensive performance.

Suns Defense: The Suns will surely be looking to shore up three point shooting after Atlanta killed them from outside last time out. The Hawks were 20-41 for deep and made that game a high scoring affair, one of the few types of games the Suns are not tremendously successful in - they are undefeated this season when holding the opponent to 110 points or less. As a team that repeatedly states that they hang their hats on the defensive end, you can bet they will go into tonight’s game with a focus on that end.

Ayton’s Conditioning: After returning in the last two games, it was expected that Deandre Ayton still needed to get back to his conditioning shape. It was very clear that conditioning and running the floor was a problem for the Suns big man in his first game back against Brooklyn, and it showed a bit less on Thursday against Atlanta. However, it was still clearly a problem for the anchor of the Suns defense, and partly why they were not on the top of their game that night. We expect to see continuous progression as he gets back to shape against a team that appears to be guard heavy, but will have Thomas Bryant back from injury to help Daniel Gafford and Montrezl Harrell inside.

Guard Play: The Suns have arguably the best backcourt in the NBA with Chris Paul and Devin Booker, but with Payne and Shamet out, that leaves only Elfrid Payton to come off the bench. Washington, on the other hand, started three guards in Dinwiddie, Holiday and KCP recently, and seem to rely on that line-up quite often, having their forwards - Avdja, Hachimura and the rookie Corey Kispert coming off the bench along with backup point guard Raul Neto. With the minutes piling high for Chris Paul, I’m interested to see if Monty will tinker with the guard rotation tonight.


Prediction Time

The Suns defense hold up well against a Beal-less Wizards and beat them 110-97.