Preview: Phoenix Suns (42-29) at Washington Wizards (36-34)

Time: 4:00 pm MST






The 1971-72 Phoenix Suns won 49 games and missed the playoffs.  Now that was at a time when the NBA had fewer teams and fewer playoffs spots, but nevertheless, that same fate could easily befall this year’s Suns. Phoenix was supposed to put the Dallas Mavericks in their rear view last night, but Dirk and Co. had other ideas. Their overtime win over the Thunder put Dallas back ahead of Phoenix by a half game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Suns aren’t quite in “every game is a must win game” territory yet, but they can certainly see it rapidly approaching on the horizon. In the modern era of 16 playoff teams, only the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors have missed the playoffs with 48 wins. That scenario seems destined to be repeated by the Suns, Mavericks, or Grizzlies this year. If the Suns want to avoid being the odd man out, they have to take care of business in winnable games, like tonight’s matchup with the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards have lost three of four and are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference. Starting power forward Nene has been out for a month and is still a week or more away from returning to practice. John Wall has kept the team afloat in his absence averaging a near double-double in the month of March (19 points and 9.8 assists per game.) He’s also knocking down 49% of his threes this month. Former Sun Marcin Gortat has been great as well, averaging over 13 points and 11 boards per game over the last month. He has dealt with some back problems recently, but they haven’t seemed to bother him the last few games. Though Washington hasn’t beaten a Western Conference playoff team since the first week of February, they are not a squad the Suns can afford to overlook. The Wizards took down Phoenix in Phoenix back in January precisely because the Suns underestimated them. Phoenix was coming off their first win over Indiana and got caught napping. With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, the Suns can’t afford to sleep on anyone. For more on this game, let’s ask three preview questions.

Which team wins the point guard battle?

John Wall vs. the Dragic-Bledsoe tag team may not be a fair fight, but who really wants to watch a fair fight. Wall is the engine that makes the Wizards go. He can score with the best point guards in the league. He gets easy buckets for his teammates. And his quickness is dangerous on both ends of the floor. Luckily for the Suns, they have not one but two great point guards. While Eric Bledsoe has been scoring in bunches lately, his biggest responsibility in this game may be defending Wall. That will put the scoring load in the capable of hands of Dragic, who has quietly kept his production high since Bledsoe’s return.

Can Phoenix win the rebounding battle?

Last time out against the Wizards, the Suns shot 48% from the field and outscored Washington in the paint, but still lost the game. How did that happen? Phoenix gave up 19 offensive rebounds and lost the overall battle of the boards 44-30. That absolutely cannot happen tonight. Phoenix has been rebounding better lately, but they are still vulnerable on the defensive glass. No Nene for the Wizards takes some of the pressure off, but Trevor Booker, who is starting in Nene’s place, had six offensive rebounds against the Suns in January, so Phoenix will have to have a body on him at all times.

Can the bench handle the scoring load?

The Suns’ bench is one of the best in the league, especially on the offensive end. Gerald Green may be streaky, but he’s one of the best off-the-bench scorers around. Likewise Markieff Morris is having a breakout year as a sixth man, and his brother has grown his game as well. The Wizards are a very shallow team. Phoenix must take advantage when the starters go to the bench. The Suns have been able to rely on at least two of their reserves stepping up in each game of this win streak. The bench will be called upon again tonight to keep that streak alive.

Tags: Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Preview Washington Wizards

  • sunsn7

    Completely off subject but as far as local news, anyone familiar with the “Mikey the pit bull” story? About the pit bull that mauled a 4 year old boy, permantly disfiguring his face?

    Because of the public outcry..for saving the dog… a judge has spared the life of the pit bull, had him defanged, neutered, and will spend the rest of its life in an animal rehabilitation facility. Meanwhile citizens flocked to the local tv cameras, wearing their supportive t-shirts, even having statewide and nationwide fundraisers…for the dog.

    I ask myself what in the hell is the matter with people when a vicious dog (who also attacked and mauled another dog just 6 mos. earlier) is treated like a victim and the boy himself is treated as an afterthought? This boy is facing years of reconstructive surgery but the public’s sentiment seems to be with the dog. I didn’t understand it, it didn’t make much sense. Then I saw the name and picture of the kid, Kevin Vicente, a little Mexican boy.

    Now the picture is far more clear. the thing about it, I bet these people who care more for the dog’s well being than that of the boy, actually see themselves as “good people”.

    In my opinion it’s an indictment on our society as a whole.

    Now bring on the dismissive comments.

  • sunsn7

    Yes Weisert absolutely correct, the Suns overlooked the Wizards earlier this season and overlooking struggling teams has been an achilles heel for the Suns all season long. Speaks to the inexperience and youth of the players i suppose. Was good to read last week that Hornacek is ratcheting up the intensity level in practice, in preperation for this final stretch of the regular season.

    I’m glad you brought up the fact that Goran Dragic has QUIETLY maintained his high level of play since the return of Eric Bledsoe. It speaks to the selflessness of Dragic and he has most definitely put him self out front as a “lead by example” leader..but I also noticed the Dragon is more assertively vocal on the court which was something that was missing from his game in the past.

    And Bledsoe himself deserves credit as well for stepping right back into the fray and being productive while also playing within the confines of the team offense. Bledsoe isn’t jacking up shots for a fat contract. He knows if he just balls hard, everything else will take care of itself. Bledsoe is a team player and the Suns are gonna ride the new version of KJ/ Hornacek into the next era. it will be fun watching them go up against John Wall.

    Good thing for Frye, Nene won’t be playing. Nene loves playing the Phoenix Suns.

    Also big game out east tonight, Miami @ Indiana. Go Pacers!

  • Foreveris2long

    Sunsn7 I just saw a little bit of the story so clearly you are more in tune with it than I am. However I share your sentiment regarding the well being of the child. The Pitbull breed has been shown to have a very dangerous propensity to cause serious injury or kill victims. Some insurance companies will no longer provide homeowners insurance if you have that breed of animal. Now I know all pit bulls are not dangerous but those who are, the owners, at least in California, have been arrested and some tried for manslaughter if the dog kills someone.

    I do not know if the owner in this case has been identified and if he/she will be subject to criminal responsibility but if they are, I can understand sparing the animal. If time permits, I will try and read some details on the tragedy.

  • sunsn7

    Foreveris, one of my dogs is half pit bull, half golden lab so I am familiar with pit bulls, owner responsibility, and so forth.

    From my understanding, the boy was in the care of a babysitter and he wandered over to the neighbors yard and attempted to pick up the dog’s bone and was attacked. Even as people attempted to pry the dogs jaws from the boys face, the pit bull wouldn’t let go and did the trademark “shaking” of the boy back and forth. Even the owners of the dog wanted their dog euthanized for mauling the boy as this dog had also attacked and mauled another dog just 6 months earlier.

    Now I fully get that the boy shouldn’t of been allowed to wander over to the neighbors, I get that completely. Nor do I believe the neighbors should be held financially or criminally responsible for what happened. What I find rather appalling is that the public’s attention, sympathy, and resources seems to be focused on this dog that has shown a propensity for viciousness prior to this incident, mind you, and no outpouring of “humanity” towards the boy.

    But I now understand why.

  • phx suns fan in la

    Nothing is wrong with pitbulls Ive had them my whole have a pitbull and a doberman and its not in the dogs nature but its how the dogs raised. So I dont think its right to have the dog put through all that its the dogs owners fault if anything

  • phx suns fan in la

    And you can put 90 percent of the blame of the dumb babysitter who let the kid walk to his neighbors yard and pick up the dogs bone like wtf

  • Foreveris2long

    Thanks for the insight Sunsn7. Maybe the sympathy for the dog instead of the kidd is based on love for animals and not racially motivated, at least I hope so. Whether love for a dog should equate with love of a human life might be a difficult issue for some animal lovers. However regarding race, I think in most cases bigotry is the manifestation of someone who is ignorant and therefore suspect ignorance not the facts are motivating some. I can only hope they are in the minority.


  • Brenton

    The dog should be put down. Mauling people is not acceptable. Its not acceptable for a person or a dog. The “supporters” of the dog are just idiots.

    Anyway, another “must win” game for the Suns, with that brutal stretch coming up they have to take care of business against the Wiz.

    And Im starting to wonder about Portland falling out of the playoffs completely if they dont get it together. Only 2 1/2 ahead of Phoenix. Still nine games to go, and the Suns can get the tiebreaker if they beat them in April.

    Good news is that there are so many teams in range. We only need one team to collapse.

  • Scott

    I seriously doubt the story about the child and dog is related to ethnic prejudice. People just like dogs … maybe better than they like people. I’ve met a fair number of folks like that. The view is that people tend to be evil and dogs tend to be pure, so dog > person.

    As for the human culpability in the incident … my view is that accidents happen. You do what you can to prevent them, but they still happen. It’s bad all around.

    So to me it’s a tragedy, and I while I don’t know the details, I automatically don’t put much faith in the reconstructive surgery. The doctors will do what they can, but … :(

    Anyway … seeing as this is a Suns forum … GO SUNS!!!

  • sunsn7

    Yep GO SUNS!

  • john

    I’m a dog guy. I’ve never known a dog I didn’t love. Two things:

    1. The boy should be the focus of ALL support. Not just most. ALL. People always trump dogs.

    2. The pit bull should be put down, and I honestly think the wise thing to do with pit bulls would be to eradicate the breed, or at the very least restrict their ownership to those who can justify the necessity of owning *that* particular breed.

    A lot of people will see #2 as a controversial item, but I believe it’s necessary. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have been attacked by pit bulls, and in almost every instance, the dog is from a low income area and has quite obviously faced a bit of neglect. Those same types of neighborhoods have tons of Chihuahuas, goldens, labs, Australians, etc., that simply don’t do that whether or not they face neglect and poor ownership. Bad owners shouldn’t be allowed to own dogs that have a tendency to go bad. Bad owners shouldn’t even be allowed to have dogs at all, but they especially shouldn’t be allowed to have a breed like a pit bull.

    Again, I’m dog guy, and I know tons of pit bulls that are sweet as could be. Many of them are wonderful animals with loving and caring owners who have a passion for them. But the number of them that go bad is staggering, and if you go to a pound, you’ll be amazed at how many of the animals are pit bull breeds. I don’t know what it is about pit bulls in particular, but they tend to attract a lot of bad owners.

    I could go on and on about this and continue not making sense, but…


  • john

    btw, why are we talking about dog attacks and the constitution lately? Not saying I don’t like it, but the conversation seems to have taken a more intelligent turn in the absence of guys like bill_thomas

    Btw, mods, I’ve noticed you’ve been taking some of the garbage out. It’s appreciated.

  • Foreveris2long

    NLRB agreed with private college kids allowing them to unionize based on the conclusion they are employees of the university. While Northwestern who has an extremely high graduation rate, will appeal, if this decision is upheld it will likely assist with kids staying in college longer which may help the NBA with their concerns.

    Big game tonight for the Suns.

  • Melon Man

    I don’t think what you’re seeing with the dog story is about racism; I think it’s about how a large amount of people don’t want to portray pitbulls as the dangerous dogs they are. Every time there’s an incident like this nowadays there’s a hardcore group of pro-pitbull people that come out of the woodwork to tell us all how they’re such great dogs. Certainly that kid shouldn’t have been where he was but that doesn’t make pitbulls friendly dogs. Again this isn’t a race thing imo.

    Should be a good matchup, John Wall is actually a point guard and is entertaining. Should be fun to watch each backcourt.

    Go Suns!!

  • hawki

    I was surprised by the NLRB’s ruling allowing athletes to be treated as employees & the right to unionize.
    I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of that case.

    I love dogs but not as much as I love kids….thought Montini gave a fair & balanced opinion on that sad situation.

    Gotta go…my cat is meowing at the door.

  • Sunsfansince90

    Relieved to see Nene is not playing. He’s the type of physical big man that poses problems for the Suns ala Zach Randolph.

  • sunsn7

    Suns are blowing this game big time

  • sunsn7

    Back to back 3′s from Green and Dragic plus a fantastic layup for Dragic!

    Threat averted

  • DZ

    Suns win! I love it!

  • sunsn7

    If Archie Goodwin would of gotten some burn, the Suns would’ve torched the Wizards by 20!!!

  • foreveris2long

    Hawki when I first heard the suit primarily by Northwestern students I told a buddy of mine whose son played football there that the players would win. He thought I had blown a fuse. There is a strong trend in this country to find workers, even if students, are employees. I love those issues and have litigated a few myself (not student athletes).You are absolutely right however this case will likely be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Great win by the Suns in avoiding a total collapse in a getaway game.


    Atta boys.

  • sunsn7

    Always good when you drop in Butler! We need your classic “NEXT STEP TO THE FINALS..” pregame/postgame hype and commentary around here more often.