Wizards vs. Suns Preview: Can they kick off their three game home stand on the right foot?


The Washington Wizards (36-34) play against the Phoenix Suns (42-29) tonight to kick off a three game home stand over the next four days. Here's what you'll need to know.

The Wizards entered their four game West Coast road trip in fifth place in the Eastern Conference after an emphatic win over the Brooklyn Nets. They left that road trip only winning one of those games and are now squarely in sixth place. Today, they get a chance to make some headway toward getting a win against a Western Conference team that still has its playoff hopes alive, and start their home stand off right before Friday's game against the Indiana Pacers.

Where and when? 7 p.m. at Verizon Center. You can watch this game on CSN.

Who's out? For the Wizards, Nene will be out, but he could be back before the playoffs start so that's good. For the Suns, Emeka Okafor and Leandro Barbosa.

Are they good? Yes. It's kind of a shame that they are ninth in the West right now and wouldn't be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

What are they good at? The Suns play better than the sum of their parts, especially on offense. Not too many expected Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green, and Miles Plumlee to be playing as well as they are together right now.

They are currently in the top ten for offensive rating, team field goal percentage, and three point field goal percentage. If their shots are falling, this team is hard to stop.

Whether they make the playoffs or not, head coach Jeff Hornacek deserves serious consideration for the 2013-2014 NBA Coach of the Year award given their performance despite a lack of a clear franchise star.

What are they bad at? The Suns are in the bottom 10 for turnovers per game, and the Wizards are in the top five for causing turnovers per game.

And of course, they're "bad" at tanking. Before the season began, many pegged this team as a prime candidate that would mail it in even before the first game of the season. That didn't make Hornacek happy. This is now an old article from USA Today back in December, but here's a quote that shows where he and his staff are coming from:

"We basically told (the Suns players), we said 'Hey, five of the six coaches on the bench are ex-players," Hornacek said, referring to former NBA players Jerry Sichting, Kenny Gattison, Mark West, and Corey Gaines and former college player Irving Roland. "The one guy that doesn't have the playing experience helped coach an NBA championship team in Boston (Mike Longabardi), and then we've got players. None of us want to lose.' So we emphasized Play Hard, Play Together. We'll win our fair share of games, and there will be no laying down for any of us. We're too competitive."

Who wins? I think it's going to be close. But I'll say the Wizards win this game.

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