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Wizards at Suns Pregame: The End Is Near

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Regular Season Game 75

Wizards (36-38) at Suns (20-55)

April 1, 2016 at 10:30 PM
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

December 4, 2015 – Verizon Center: Wizards 109, Suns 106


What to watch

The Wizards playing for self-respect. The season has been a selection of shit shows all throughout it. From the injuries, to the failure of establishing a pace and space offense, to the blowout losses and season sweeps to conference rivals, to Kobe’s monster game at Verizon, to wasting John Wall’s amazing season, to Randy Wittman’s continued incompetence, to being on the brink of playoff elimination after coming into the season as Conference Finals hopefuls, to Bradley Beal airing out his teammates and Marcin Gortat’s blunt reaction, it’s been straight up awful all around.

Now the Wizards squad themselves trapped on the West Coast, dispirited, forced to deal with one another away from home as they close out the final mandatory games of the season. Will they be playing with a starving mindset that the playoffs are still within reach? Will they be playing with a recovery mindset to try and patch up a broken locker room? Or will they just be going through the motions to collect their remaining game checks?

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

For John Wall, the captain of this team, it’s time to realize and accept the unfortunate fact that his best season of his career has all but officially become wasted away. With 7 games remaining and the Wizards still 3 games out of the 8 seed, there’s no time left to salvage the mess he’s been put in. But what he can do is rally his guys back together in these final days of the season – specifically the ones who will remain under contract with the team – and work to rebuild their foundation for next season, starting tonight. The Wizards enter the offseason with five players guaranteed to return: Wall, Gortat, Morris, Otto, and Oubre. Bradley Beal’s contract extension is still a mystery and the team will need to decide whether or not they want to pick up the option on Drew Gooden. The Wizards’ core is still too good to lose hope for the future, and the best way to help themselves before a critical offseason begins is to control how the regular season ends.


Key Matchup

Markieff Morris vs. his ex-teammates

The Wizards gave up their 1st round pick to Phoenix for Keef in hopes to find the final piece needed to make a playoff push. Looking at how things have fared since the deal, it’s the clear Wizards really didn’t find such a piece, as they’ve gone 12-11 since the deal and still three games out of playoff position, exactly where they were at the time of the trade.


READ: Suns blogger calls for fans to boo Markieff Morris mercilessly


Keef returns to Phoenix tonight, a city he left with a heavy heart. His career was once promising with the Suns, until they traded away his twin brother Marcus, a move that hampered Markieff’s production. This was followed by a sideline scuffle between Keef and his teammate Archie Goodwin, icing the end of Keef’s tenure in the desert.


X-factor

Devin Booker has been a monster post-All-Star Game. With the season-ending injury to Eric Bledsoe, Booker has stepped up and become one of the brighter stories in what’s been an otherwise terrible season for the Suns. In the month of March, Booker averaged 22.4 points in just under 38 minutes played per game, shooting 43% from the field. He’s also averaging 4.9 assists in March.

Another one of Coach Cal’s one-and-dones at Kentucky, Booker is rapidly learning the ways of professional basketball and he’s excelling at it. He’s got a quick release on his shot, he can penetrate and make good decisions in traffic, and he’s an improving defender.

Here are his game highlights from a game against the Timberwolves a few nights ago. He’s got #WizardsKiller written all over him.


Fun Factor:

John Wall and Eric Bledsoe!

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E-Bled will not be playing tonight and that’s a damn shame considering how much John Wall gets up for a challenge against his ex-Cat mates. Wall has always kept Bledsoe dear to his heart, once referring to him as his brother after Bledsoe went down for the season in 2014. The two combined to become a dominating backcourt at Kentucky, leading the Wildcats to a 35-3 record in 2009. They’ve maintained their close relationship while playing in the NBA.


Prediction

The Wizards regain a little self-respect, take out the lowly Suns easily.

we are Hoop District

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