The NBA is back in full swing following last night’s games between the Pelicans and Jazz and the Lakers and Clippers. There are several games on the docket for Friday, including a matchup between the Phoenix Suns (26-39) and the Washington Wizards (24-40). Both of these teams are currently on the outside looking in the NBA playoffs but still were lucky enough to get the invite to the NBA restart. While it was looking unlikely that either of these squads would get to make the postseason at the time of the league’s postponement, the NBA restart has given both of these teams new life and something to play for.
If a team is four or fewer games behind whoever is in the 8th seed at the end of the seeding games in Orlando, a play-in tournament will be needed to determine who gets the last playoff spot. With both teams being several games behind the 8th seed, forcing a play-in tournament is the most likely scenario for either of these teams to make the playoffs. While the Suns were the last team from the Western Conference to get invited, the Wizards were the only team not currently a top-eight seed in the East to be invited. While it is undoubtedly going to be a steep path to the playoffs for either of these teams, both clubs would love to begin the NBA restart 1-0.
TV Section: Washington Wizards vs. Phoenix Suns, 7/31/20 4:00 pm EST, TV: TNT Radio: ESPN Radio
Suns Starting 5
Even though the Suns are currently six games back of the 8th seed and having the most challenging path of any team to reach the postseason, I think there are many positive things to talk about in regards to this team. The Suns have already posted the best record they’ve had in five years and have shown significant improvement. After several stellar years without any recognition, Devin Booker was finally selected to the first All-Star Game of his career after averaging 26.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The Suns have also seen significant improvement from their former #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton. The big man is averaging 19.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game while shooting 57% from the field. Ayton also hit the first three-pointer of his career in an exhibition game earlier this month, showing the rest of the NBA that he can step outside the three-point line.
The Suns have a talented young duo that I believe they can build around for the future. This Suns team also has several solid role players that could help them in the restart. Since being traded from the Wizards last season, Kelly Oubre has been a rising star for Phoenix, although he is currently injured. The team traded for center Aron Baynes the previous offseason, who can stretch the floor and has provided quality minutes both starting and coming off the bench for the Suns. Both Baynes and Ayton will be crucial to theSuns success if they hope to win this matchup against the Wizards. Washington’s biggest weakness is their defense, more specifically their big men. If Phoenix can get their two centers going, it could spell trouble for the Wizards.
Wizards Starting 5
The Wizards haven’t had the best luck headed into the league restart. Not only has their franchise point guard John Wall been injured for nearly two years, the team’s two best players from the 2019-20 season both opted out of playing in the restart in Orlando. Two-time All-Star Bradley Beal (should be three-time, but that’s a story for another day) opted out of playing in Orlando, noting that he is dealing with a right rotator cuff injury.
Davis Bertans, who was averaging a career-high 15.4 points per game on 42.4% shooting from three, also opted out of joining the team in Orlando. Without their three best players, Washington certainly has their work cut out if they wish to make the playoffs. The Wizards will be led by rookie Rui Hachimura in Orlando, who was averaging 13.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game before the season was postponed. Hachimura was showing great potential, and he is expected to carry a lot of the offensive workload for the Wizards in the restart.
Veteran point guards Ish Smith and Shabazz Napier are also available for the team, who, despite not being star players, are both respectable threats on the offensive side of the ball. Other players set to make an impact for Washington in the restart are Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant, and Isaac Bonga. While the Wizards aren’t boasting one of the most talented rosters in the restart, they are only 1.5 games away from forcing a play-in tournament. With the Suns currently having the worst record of any eligible team in the Western Conference, the Wizards do have a shot at picking up the win tomorrow.
Wizards vs Suns Fantasy Basketball Angle
When it comes to fantasy basketball, there is only one player that stands out amongst both of these lineups. Devin Booker is the best player on either team, and he should be in the starting lineup for your fantasy team. The guy is a scoring machine, having averaged 26.1 points per game and scored over 30 points 22 times throughout the season. The Wizards were the worst defensive team in the NBA this season, having a league-worst defensive rating of 115.8.
The Wizards two starting guards are also both 6’1 or shorter and are not great defensively. Given that the Wizards have the worst defense in the NBA statistically and their starting guards are mismatches for Booker, starting the Suns SG would be a smart play. If he’s on your fantasy roster, definitely consider starting Devin Booker.
Wizards vs Suns Betting Odds
Suns Odds: -275
Wizards Odds: +225
The oddsmakers have the Suns as the favorite in this matchup, and I would have to agree. The Wizards are so banged up and are without several of their best players, and I don’t think betting on them would be wise. Although I am a Wizards fan, I am also a realist. However, I would encourage you to bet the over in this matchup. Both teams have subpar defenses, and it would not surprise me if lots of points are scored in this matchup. The Suns and the Wizards have players that can score, but what they have on offense, they give up on the defensive side of the ball. My best suggestion would be to take the Suns in the game and bet the over.
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