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Washington Wizards vs. Phoenix Suns: Regular Season Game 25 Open Thread

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The Essentials:

Wizards (8-16) vs. Suns (17-9)
9:00 p.m.
US Airways Arena
Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Notable Suns numbers this season

10th in expected winning percentage (.594)
5th in pace (95.1 possessions per game)
2nd in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (114)
27th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (111)

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
Paul Coro's blog for the Arizona Republic
Wizards Insider: The other side: Suns
GameDay Phoenix

Tonight's Projected Starters
Wizards vs. Suns
GIlbert Arenas
PG Steve Nash
DeShawn Stevenson
SG Jason Richardson
Caron Butler
SF Grant Hill
Antawn Jamison
PF Amare Stoudemire
Brendan Haywood
C Channing Frye

UPDATE: Pre-game audio of Flip Saunders, via Phoenix Stan at Bright Side of the Sun (who is credentialed).

Snowed in on a Saturday night? Me too! All the more reason to join us here for what should be a fun one, at the very least.

Phoenix is one of the surprise teams of the league, though a look at the advanced stats say the Suns aren't quite at the level we might think. They are just 10th in point differential and still are playing abysmal defense. HOWEVA, it's worth noting that the Suns have played an unbelievably difficult schedule early in the season. The Suns have played 17 road games and just nine home games this season (in a related story, the Lakers played 17 of their first 21 at home). Phoenix is 8-9 on the road, meaning they haven't lost at home yet this year. More home games later this year should help them maintain their pace.

I kind of doubt tonight will be the first loss for them. Our guys are probably tired -- Gilbert and Caron played well over 40 minutes against the Warriors, and Antawn Jamison played 36 while being banged-up. Going to Phoenix while they're rested after playing Golden State is also kind of cruel, and it's the last game of the road trip. These are all perfectly logical reasons for a major letdown tonight. But if there's anything we've learned about this season's Wizards, logic doesn't mean much. It would totally be the Wizards way to come out with a big performance tonight after they let up against a bad team like the Clippers or even the Kings.

Some reasons to be optimistic, though, since I'm sure you're all depressed your Saturday night plans went kerplunk with the weather:

  • Nobody on Phoenix can stop Gilbert Arenas, except himself. Bright Side of the Sun suggests putting Jason Richardson on him. If that's the best you got, you're in trouble, so long as Arenas is actually aggressive and still relatively under control. Obviously, considering the ebb and flow of Arenas' season, not to mention a tough back-to-back, that's not a given. But if his aggression is there, he should have a big night.
  • The Wizards played Phoenix relatively evenly earlier in the year, save for the opening stretches of the game, when the Suns posted up Randy Foye every possession and scored at will. Foye's no longer starting, so Phoenix can't do that anymore.
  • Flip Saunders strangely started Brendan Haywood on Channing Frye and Antawn Jamison on Amare, even though Amare plays mostly inside and Frye only shoots threes. Assuming Flip makes the adjustment, that should help.

Some reasons to be pessimistic are LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA LA LA!!