The Suns were disappointed after a 1-4 road trip that saw competitive games usually go to the other team.
Now back at US Airways Center, Phoenix is winning, and they’re winning big.
The Suns have won three of their last four, including back-too-back wins over the Nuggets and Pacers by a combined 41 points. A victory tonight over Washington would cap off a 4-1 homestand before the team hits the road for another long road swing (four games, five nights).
The Wizards are just starting a long road trip of their own after wrapping up a five-game homsetand with a two-point loss to Boston.
Between the Suns’ recent burst of offense, the bench’s fourth-quarter dominance and John Wall’s emerging talent, there’s plenty worth watching in tonight’s game.
Will Big Scoring Continue?
The Suns are pouring in a whopping 117.3 points per game on 49.6 percent shooting during the homestand.
No single player is overly responsible for the offensive outburst, either. Just ask Goran Dragic, who hasn’t needed to play two consecutive fourth quarters because the bench has extended leads and essentially clinched games.
Speaking of which...
Will Reserves Keep Doing Their Thing?
The heavy lifters in the fourth quarter the last two games: Ish Smith. Leandro Barbosa. The Morris twins.
It’s the latest feel-good development for a bench that appeared to take a hit following Eric Bledsoe’s knee surgery. Eight players are averaging at least nine points per game, and that’s not including the injured Bledsoe.
When the bench provides this kind of meaningful, game-changing production, it makes the Suns’ offense a matter of waves that opponents usually can’t match.
John Wall’s Aggressiveness
Wizards head coach Randy Wittman told reporters he felt John Wall’s efforts in Wednesday’s loss ended up being “counterproductive.”
Wall finished with a triple double (28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists), but shot 9-for-29 from the field.
So what version of Wall will the Suns see tonight? If Wittman’s comments are anything to go by, the star guard’s early game aggressiveness might come in the form of passing and playmaking as opposed to scoring.
If that’s the case, Phoenix will need to be try to limit the Wizards’ role players, including...
The Suns traded the Polish big man to Washington just five days before the start of the regular season. Gortat has been just as effective for the Wizards as he was in Phoenix, putting up 12.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per contest.
Gerald Green proved that old teams can serve as motivation on Wednesday, when he scored 23 points against the Pacers.
Horancek acknowledged after Friday morning’s shootaround that Phoenix will need to be aware of the 6-11 center’s activity on both ends of the court.
“You know he’s going to have a lot of energy,” Hornacek said. “He runs up and odwn the court. We can’t let him get the ball down low. We just have to push him out as far as we can and hope he misses some of those shots.”
Can Defense Keep Up?
The Wizards are fifth in the league in assist percentage, with 61.5 percent of their made field goals coming off a pass from a teammate. It’s a big reason Washington is so efficient from beyond the arc, ranking fifth in three-point shooting percentage (38.0)
Hornacek has been impressed how the Suns initially rotate initially on defense, but wants to see quicker help for the first helper’s man.
Washington’s pass-friendly offense will put Phoenix’s energy-led defense to the test tonight. How well – and how quickly – the Suns respond will play a big factor in the outcome.