The Suns are on fire, winners of four in a row and six of their last seven games. They’ve erased a two-game deficit behind Dallas in the standings, and are thriving behind the reunited backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic.
Meanwhile the Wizards have faltered, dropping three of their last four. Who will come away with the win? Five things come into play.
More for Bledsoe?
It didn’t take long for the Suns point guard to round into shape after returning from knee surgery. Bledsoe is coming off his third consecutive game of at least 20 points, and he’s doing it the same way he did pre-surgery: attacking the basket and shooting when open.
Tonight will mark a huge test for Bledsoe in the form of All-Star guard John Wall, who will no doubt try to contain him in the backcourt. That battle will likely be the key one to watch.
Gortat vs. Plumlee
Another matchup of interest, though this one sports the added bonus of history between the players involved.
Plumlee credited Gortat for several pointers and tips before the Polish big man was traded to Washington just before the start of the season. He’ll need to show how much he’s learned to keep Gortat (12.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 53.3 FG%) from doing too much damage in the paint.
When Phoenix lost to Washington back in January, it was because of the two issues that seem to nag them at some point in every game: offensive rebounds and turnovers.
The Suns gave up 19 and committed 21, respectively in that meeting, which negated their 47.9 percent shooting and 20-of-25 performance from the foul line.
If they can stay within a respectable margin of error, the Suns will stand a much better chance in tonight’s rematch.
The Wizards, led by Trevor Ariza, Bradley Beal and Martell Webster, are one of the best three-poin shooting teams in the league, hitting over 38 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Phoenix will supply a stern test to that as the second-best team in the league at defending the three (33.9 percent).
Whoever wins that particular tug-of-war will make up a lot of points, three at a time.
Bledsoe and Dragic have fueled the Suns’ recent run, but it’s been Markieff Morris who has helped the team cross the finish line at the end of games.
Morris is averaging a team-high 5.6 fourth-quarter points for the Suns since Bledsoe’s return. That scoring has been efficient, too: a whopping 69 percent shooting to go along with 3.1 boards in that period.