The Washington Wizards try to extend their current two-game winning streak against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. Phoenix had a seven-game winning streak snapped by the LA Clippers in their last game on Thursday night.
Phoenix has been a surprise as the Suns are just 2.5 games out of the top spot in the Western Conference. Coach Monty Williams’ squad leads the Clippers by 1.5 games in the Pacific Division and is poised to break a 10-season run of not making it to the playoffs.
The Wizards have shown more promise this season after the addition of Russell Westbrook, but Washington is still six games out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, currently held by the New York Knicks. Washington has won two of three on its current road trip, including a last-second victory over Golden State on Friday night.
Looking at the NBA odds for this one, Phoenix is a 12-point favorite at home. The over/under for the contest has been set at 228 points.
Guard Bradley Beal has stepped into a leadership role for the Wizards, leading the NBA with 30.9 points per game. Beal is also averaging 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 34.3% from 3-point range.
The 27-year-old has also been clutch in the closing minutes, like his four-point play (3-pointer plus a free throw) with 6.1 seconds to play on Friday night with the Wizards down one. He also hit two free throws with just over a second remaining to set the final three-point margin.
Westbrook has been rejuvenated since being traded from Houston in the offseason. He had 19 points, 14 assists, and 14 rebounds in the win over the Warriors for his league-leading 21st triple-double. Westbrook is currently averaging a triple-double with 21.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.7 assists per game.
Second-year forward Rui Hachimura is also developing into a scoring threat, averaging 14.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. He’s upped his output over the last 10 games, averaging 17.9 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Playing Both Ends
Phoenix has been successful because of its improved play on the offensive end — thanks in part to the offseason acquisition of Chris Paul — but also on the defensive end. The Suns are allowing just 107.4 points per game, ranking them fifth in the league.
Paul’s presence has brought more cohesiveness to the Phoenix offense, as shown by the team’s 48.9% shooting from the field, which is third in the NBA. Paul is second on the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game while leading the Suns with 8.7 assists and 1.4 steals per contest.
The main scoring threat is guard Devin Booker, who is scoring 26.0 points per game while shooting a career-best 49.4% from the floor. Booker is averaging 4.5 assists per game, though that is two per game fewer than his last two seasons when he had to do more setting up of teammates rather than working for his own shot.
Former No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton is becoming more of a force in the paint, averaging 14.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He definitely benefits from the presence of Paul, who is setting up his big man much the same way he did when playing for the Clippers with DeAndre Jordan.
The first meeting between these teams was a 128-107 Washington victory in early January. Beal had 34 points as the Wizards won without Westbrook and despite Booker’s 33 points.
The Suns will definitely be more focused on slowing Washington’s offense and trying to get some easy baskets against a Wizards defense that is next to last in the league in points allowed with 118.5.
This one should be another high-scoring contest, though the Suns will come out on top. But when making your NBA betting picks, take the 12 points and go with the Wizards to at least keep this one close.