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Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards: Regular season game 7 open thread

The Essentials:

Suns (5-1) vs. Wizards (2-4)
1:00 p.m.
Verizon Center
Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Notable very early Suns numbers this season

9th in expected winning percentage (.667)
3rd in pace (100.5 possessions per game)
4th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (110.5)
22nd in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (106.6)

Notable Suns numbers last season

12th in expected winning percentage (.562)
4th in pace (96 possessions per game)
2nd in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (113.6)
26th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (111.6)

Pre-game links

Bright Side of the Sun, SB Nation's Suns Blog
Valley of the Suns, Phoenix Suns Blog
Bright Side of the Sun preview
Valley of the Suns preview
Mike Jones pre-game blog post: Wizards going with another starting lineup
Wizards Insider: The other side: Suns
GameDay Suns

Tonight's Projected Starters
Suns vs. Wizards
Steve Nash
PG Gilbert Arenas
Jason Richardson
SG Randy Foye
Grant Hill
SF Caron Butler
Amare Stoudemire
PF Fabricio Oberto
Channing Frye
C Brendan Haywood

The Phoenix Suns come in today on a major upswing, having defeated the Celtics in Boston last Friday. They're 5-1, and like Indiana, they play really, really fast. The only difference is that they actually score efficiently while they play fast. With Amare Stoudemire and Channing Frye starting up front, they pose a ton of matchup problems for the Wizards' frontcourt. It'll be interesting to see who guards whom up there.

Flip Saunders said he's going with Randy Foye tonight in the starting lineup instead of Nick Young. Why Foye? "He gives us a little more offense and consistency when he's on the floor," Saunders said. Saunders clearly was referencing Young's shortcomings when he talked about the consistency Foye brings. Saunders also is going to start Fabricio Oberto because he says Oberto is one of the best pick and roll defenders the Wizards have, which makes him adept to help stop Phoenix's pick-and-roll attack. I'm a bit dubious there, but we'll see.

Other notes from Flip Saunders' pre-game interview session:

  • Flip was asked about Gilbert Arenas' somewhat passive performance against Indiana. Saunders said that, against Miami, Gilbert pressed a bit because he was paired with some "defensive" guys, but he overcompensated a bit against Indiana. The key for Gilbert, Saunders said, is to remain aggressive and take open shots that he's given.
  • Here's a line that shocked me. When Saunders was asked about Caron Butler, he kind of dodged the question and instead talked about how he looks at the team as a whole. When there was a follow-up question on how Butler specifically is trying to find his way in that offense, Saunders said "Because of the energy we had and the team we went with, we almost went with a totally different offense." I missed this in the interview the first time, but when I listened back on the tape, my head jerked back. Whole different offense? What? Why? What different offense? I really wish I had heard this the first time so I could have followed up on that. This is definitely something to watch today if things start to go bad.
  • I asked Saunders what the single biggest key to improving the offense today. At first, he joked and said "Put the ball in the basket." Then, he said the other key was player movement and ball movement. "Move bodies, move the ball. If we do that, we'll get better shots. Right now, we're not moving our bodies and not moving the ball, so we're taking too many contested shots."
  • Saunders said he hopes Antawn Jamison will be ready in a week. Jamison was shooting around before tip-off and was stroking a lot of jumpers. "The way he's shooting it, I could put him in today," Saunders joked.
  • As for Mike Miller, Saunders said nothing's really changed. He said Miller's swelling on his shoulder needs to go down before he can play again, but once that happens, he'll go right in.