The Wizards round out their five game road trip in Phoenix tonight against a Suns team that they have not beaten since December 22, 2006. The two teams have met nine teams since then, four times in Phoenix and five in Washington,and the Suns have bested the Wizards each time by an average of 17.7 points per game.
Wall and the Wizards will have to bounce back from two consecutive losses in Los Angeles and Utah to try to finish their road trip at 3-2 with a win tonight. If the Wizards hope to win, they will have to slow down a Suns team that has scored over 100 points in the last 17 meetings between the two teams, dating back to 2003. The Suns have not been playing well as of late. In their last seven games, they have scored 100 or more points only once, a 102-90 win against the Lakers on Sunday. Over that stretch, they are 2-5 with their only other win coming against the 10-21 Sacramento Kings.
In their last seven games, the Wizards are 3-4 and have given up over 100 points in six of those games. They scored over 100 in just three. The name of the game for the Wizards tonight will have to be defense. Under Randy Wittman the Wizards have shown more aggressive defense and more energy all around before reverting to old form against Utah in a 114-100 loss. The Wizards will need some of the same energy they have shown in their recent efforts to beat the Suns who are playing their third game in four days.The Wizards come into tonight’s game on two days rest.
The Suns are lead by perennial All-Star Steve Nash, but 6-foot-11 Center Marcin Gortat has been their most consistent player. He leads the team with 15.6 points per game and 10.4 rebounds. Gortat is fifth in the league in total rebounds and tenth in blocked shots. He is the Suns best defensive player and will certainly be there protecting the rim if John Wall is attacking.
The Wizards’ perimeter shooting will likely determine the outcome of the game. They have been shooting the ball from behind the arc at 30% this year, which puts them at 28th in the league. The Suns, however, are in the bottom third of the league in opponent’s three point percentage at 36%. Getting some shots to fall from outside will be important for the Wizards against the Suns who allow the second fewest made field goals at the rim in the league.
The Wizards three point shooting won’t be the only thing to watch for in tonight’s game. In the last meeting between these two teams, Suns’ Forward Channing Frye shot 7-11 from the three point line and scored 25 points in the 109-91 win for the Suns. Frye’s three point percentage is down this year, but he still attempts four three point shots per game compared to 4.7 shots per game from inside the three point line.
The Wizards always have a tough time guarding forwards who can shoot it from deep. They have given up big games to forwards Caron Butler(twice), Nicolas Batum, Al Harrington, Ryan Anderson and Linas Kleiza. Channing Frye is cut from the same mold of players like Ryan Anderson and Al Harrington. In two games against the Wizards this year, Ryan Anderson scored 23 points in both and shot a combined 9-14 from three point land. In their only meeting so far this year, Al Harrington dropped 29 points on the Wizards while shooting 5-9 from beyond the arc. Frye will likely give the Wizards similar problems tonight if they can’t defend the three point line. Throwing a taller defender like Jan Vesely at the 6-foot-11 Frye could help slow down his three point shooting.
All in all, it will be a tough match-up for the Wizards tonight on the road where they always have problems. If Channing Frye and Jared Dudley get hot from outside, it’s going to be a long night for the Wiz. On the other hand, if Nick Young or Jordan Crawford can get something going, which has been a big “if” this season, the Wizards could certainly compete against the Suns who haven’t looked as solid as in years past. The match-up between John Wall and Steve Nash should be a lot of fun to watch either way. Look out for a high scoring game in Phoenix tonight.
My Bold Prediction: Wizards steal one on the road 110-102
Game time is at 9PM EST. Follow along on Twitter with me during the game @cooooooookiee.