Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 67th game of the season against the Suns in Phoenix are TAI’s Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) and guest Ryan Weisert (@Spectavius), who contributes to the ESPN True Hoop Blog Valley of the Suns.
Wizards Starters (23-43):
John Wall, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene, Jason Collins (Okafor has the flu!)
Suns Starters (23-45):
Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, Luis Scola
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Suns over the past week?)
@Spectavius: The Suns have done absolutely nothing but disappoint for the last two weeks. Outside of a home win against a toothless Lakers team missing Kobe Bryant, there has been absolutely nothing to cheer for in the desert. The loss to the Wizards was especially brutal. Phoenix hadn’t lost to Washington since 2006. Proof of how long ago that was: Gilbert Arenas had 54 points in the game. The one and only thing the Suns can be counted on for this season is giving up career highs. You’re welcome Martell Webster.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@Spectavius: People seem to be sleeping on Goran Dragic a bit. On one hand, you can’t really blame them. The Suns are terrible. Dragic’s stats aren’t going to blow anyone away. And Goran is no better than the seventh-best point guard in his own conference. That said, he has been solid in his first year as a full-time starter. He’s top-12 in the league in assists while also leading the Suns in scoring. He’s asserted himself as one of the best point guards in the league at getting to the rim. Of all the Suns’ offseason acquisitions, Dragic is the only one who seems to be a long-term piece to build around. If the Suns can surround him with more talent in the offseason, his production is sure to grow to levels no one can sleep on.
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@Spectavius: There are two to keep an eye on. The first is the battle between John Wall and Dragic. For their size, both guys are incredible at getting to the rim. Wall is in the middle of one of the best stretches of his career while Dragic may be tired of carrying this awful squad night after night. Both teams rely on their point guards to keep them in games as both scorers and distributors. Can they balance looking for their shot and keeping teammates involved? Can they stay in front of one another defensively? The second is the Suns’ atrociously horrible 3-point defense. The Suns have allowed opponents to shoot over 50% in their last three losses, which included a 14-of-21 performance from Martell and the DC Gang. Can the Wizards repeat that performance? Phoenix isn’t likely to get in their way.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@ConorDDirks: On Saturday night, the Wizards smothered the Suns. Some of that was due to three-point shooting, with the Wizards shooting over 66% from behind the line, and the Phoenix converting on only 28% of their attempts. Webster, Temple, and Beal may not be as hot tonight as they were this past weekend, but both Webster and Beal have shown they can hit on the long ball consistently, and it’s likely the Wizards will call on them to do so. Emeka Okafor is ill, and not in the good way. He’ll be out tonight with the flu, meaning that the Wizards will start Jason Collins. If you’re comfortable with Collins taking Big Mek’s customary 8-10 shots per game, then you’re crazy.
Look for the Wizards to attack the mid-range with aid from Collins and Booker picks, and to favor finding their sharpshooters in the corners. I just realized how happy I am that the Wizards finally have “sharpshooters” to find.
The Wizards are favored by 1 over the Suns, and the over/under is 193.5 (via USA Today)
@Truth_About_It: They’ve got to get off the road snide… and play more defense (yes, against the high-scoring Suns). Washington takes it 110-101.
@ConorDDirks: Martell Webster may land somewhere in between last Saturday (34 points) and Monday (12 points), and Emeka Okafor is out with the flu, but the Wizards will hopefully get a healthy Bradley Beal increased minutes. I like the Wizards getting a close win, 97-93.