Phoenix- The Phoenix Suns (26-20) are playing with fire, and the scary thing is, they are playing with fire without having the proper training of how to safely play with fire. That is the best way...

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The Suns are 4-2 so far in their eight-game home stand and have lost two games in a row. Can they get back on track tonight against the Wizards?

What: Phoenix Suns (26-20) vs. Washington Wizards (31-15)

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix, AZ

When: 8:30 p.m. Locally / 10:30 p.m. Eastern

Watch: ESPN (Nationally) & Fox Sports AZ (Locally) / Listen: AZ Sports 98.7 fm

Tonight, the Suns will take on the Wizards in an attempt to snap a two-game losing streak after an impressive four-game winning streak to begin the eight-game home stand.

If the Suns want to ensure they come out of their home stand with a winning record, tonight may be their best opportunity to do so.  The Suns are coming off two days of rest, while the Wizards played just last night against the Los Angelles Lakers...their third straight away game before heading to Phoenix today to close out their four-game road trip.

However, the Wizards are also on a two-game winning streak against the Denver Nuggets and the Lakers, and will be hoping to end their road trip with a big win over Phoenix tonight before heading back home to play the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

Tale of the Tape



Probable Starters

Team
Suns
Wizards
PG
Eric Bledsoe
John Wall
SG
Goran Dragic
Bradley Beal
SF
P.J. Tucker
Paul Pierce
PF
Markieff Morris
Nene
C
Alex Len
Marcin Gortat

What to Watch For

  • Run and Gun - The Suns are second in the league in fast break points, and this is an area thy will need to exploit against a talented Wizards' team who is shooting more efficiently both from the field, and from three than the Suns.  Phoenix is also third in scoring off of turnovers, which is a big part of that.  The Suns need to be active on defense causing steals and turnovers that will spark their transition offense where they are at their best.
  • Limit second chance points - The Suns are currently the worst in the league when it comes to allowing 2nd chance points. The Suns have been burned lately by not only defensive breakdowns, but also second chance points that have turned what were initially effective defensive series into bad ones, by allowing teams to score after missing.
  • Protect the Paint - Another category that the Suns are under-performing in is allowing teams to get to the rim for easy baskets.  Phoenix is currently the second worst team in the league in opponents' points in the paint giving up an average of 46.5 points per game in the lane.  The Suns need to tighten up their defense tonight against a Wizards team that scores very well from the paint and from mid-range.
  • Battle of the Back-Courts - Although the Suns have one of the most talented, and deepest back-courts in the league, the Wizards have a very good pair of starting guards as well.  The Suns will face the fast and furious John Wall and the sharp-shooting Bradley Beal, who are sure to give the Suns' some problems.  Phoenix needs to keep both of them under control and win this battle in they want to come out victorious tonight.
  • No more T's, please - Suns coach Jeff Hornacek is fed up with the technical fouls and has made it his mission, with the backing of the Suns' front office, to do something about it.  The Suns have likely cost themselves a few winnable games both from the players getting technical fouls at critical points in some games, and from the coach benching some of his best players for getting them in others.  The players are aware of this policy, and it is up to them to control their tempers and keep their emotions under control.

Predictions

I feel good about the Suns' chances tonight after two disappointing losses in a row.  The players have had two days to rest, practice, and hopefully do some soul-searching and communicating as a team to figure out what they need to do in order to be successful.

The Suns already beat the Wizards on the road in their first match-up, and I see no reason why they can't do the same here at home.

As I said in the beginning, this is their best shot to ensure that they end this historically-long, eight-game road trip with a winning record.  The Suns need to put the drama from the last couple of games behind them and come out swinging...I think they will.

Suns win 104-97

1. Do you agree with Jeff Hornacek’s decision to bench guys, regardless of the importance of the game, after a technical when arguing with officials? Gerald Bourguet: I don’t mind it at...

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Suns notebook: The Super Bowl media day moved Suns practice to their owner's house; Hornacek tweaks the technical foul policy.

      
 
 

Suns notebook: The Super Bowl media day moved Suns practice to their owner's house; Hornacek tweaks the technical foul policy.

      
 
 

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