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Wizards vs Suns preview: Washington tries to get back on track against Phoenix

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NBA: Phoenix Suns at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

An up and down Wizards team look to right the ship against an equally up and down Suns team. On Saturday, the 3-9 Wizards, 3-9 lost to an offensively challenged Heat team while the 4-10 Suns lost to the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers.

Jared Dudley returns to Washington for the first time since he signed a three year deal over the summer to reunite with the Phoenix Suns, where he spent time earlier in his career.

Last season, the Wizards defeated the Suns both times they played, but only by a combined 10 points. The Suns are an offensive team first, so the Wizards defense will need to figure things out in order to compete.

The Wizards expected to be better than 3-9 at this point. Let’s see if they can put their money where their collective mouth is.

Game Info

When: Monday, November 21st at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Verizon Center in Washington, DC.
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App

Injury Report

Suns: None
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Out, Knee), Markieff Morris (Game-time decision, Knee)

Three Keys

Defense Must Improve

After Saturday’s loss, Beal put forth a familiar criticism of the Wizards defense:

"We can't just guard our guys individually, just keep them in front of us. We got to work with that first. I think we rely too much on our help. We're putting too much pressure on our other teammates when we're just letting our guy go by us. We're just not having that effort or we're slow on some of the rotations."

This sounds familiar because it’s the same thing that Gortat said two years ago. It’s sad to think that in two years, the same problems persist, but that is where the Wizards are. If they want to win against the Suns, Washington’s defense needs to be on point. The team from the Valley of the Sun is 6th in points per game and 5th in rebounds per game; the Wiz Kids will have their hands full.

Battle of the old Kentucky Guards

Sam Houston State v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Back in 2009-2010, the Kentucky Wildcats starting backcourt was John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. In 2016-2017, both have developed into starting NBA point guards and have been franchise players for a few years (or in Wall’s case, many years.) It’s always fun to see these two friends battle each other on the court. Both are explosive athletes, play physical defense, and are hyper competitive. Trust me, you don’t want to miss a second when they’re facing each other.

Consistency is Key

The Wizards’ calling card at this point in inconsistency. Their game against the Heat was a perfect example. The first quarter was a masterpiece; John Wall had 7 assists, Otto had 3 steals, and the Wiz scored 35 points. But after Markieff Morris went down with an injury, things started to unravel in the worst way. Despite having a strong fourth quarter, the comeback wasn’t enough to pull out a victory. In order to give themselves a healthy chance of winning against the Suns, they need to bring the effort for all 48 minutes.

Most Likely Wizards Killer: Brandon Knight

After experimenting last season with a dual PG lineup with Bledsoe and Knight starting, the Suns have decided that Knight will be 6th man. Knight probably won’t have any issues capitalizing against what has been one of the worst benches in the league so far this season.