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Suns host Wall's Wizards on Tuesday
By: Sam Chase - StatFox
Published: 3/7/2017  at  2:47:00 PM
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at PHOENIX SUNS (21-42)

Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Washington -5, Total: 228

John Wall and the Wizards take on a streaking Suns team in Phoenix.

After losing their first two games after the All-Star break, the Wizards have won three of their last four, most recently overcoming a 17-point deficit to beat the Magic, 115-114, at home on Sunday (ORL +12.5). Now 37-24 on the season (34-27 ATS), Washington is third in the Eastern Conference standings, 1.5 games back of Boston and a game ahead of the Raptors. The Wizards return to the court on Tuesday night for the opening game of a five-game Western Conference road trip, a matchup against the streaking Phoenix Suns. Despite owning the NBA’s third-worst record at 21-42 (32-29-2 ATS), they have won three straight games, including two against prospective playoff participants in Oklahoma City and Boston. All three victories for the Suns came as underdogs, and they have won their last three games against the spread by a combined 39.5 points. The most recent, against Boston on Sunday, featured a thrilling finish in which Phoenix overcame a five-point deficit with only four seconds remaining in regulation. Since 1996, home underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points coming off of a home win of three points or fewer (PHX) are 13-40 ATS in non-conference games. In the same timeframe, games involving a team coming off a win against a division opponent (WAS) and a team coming off a home win of three points or fewer (PHX) are 138-88 Under against the total. Washington SG Bradley Beal returned to finish the game against Orlando on Saturday after twisting his left ankle, but is still considered questionable to play Tuesday night.

After dealing with injuries over the course of his young career, Beal (22.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.1 SPG) is leading the Wizards in scoring and is on pace for both the healthiest and most productive season of his career. While he’s been fantastic all season long, he’s been on fire since the All-Star break. In that span, he’s averaging 28.2 points per game, seventh best in the NBA. His ankle injury midway through the Orlando game barely slowed him down, as he finished with 32 points and four assists. Of course, the team’s leader remains star PG John Wall (22.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 10.8 APG, 2.0 SPG). He’s averaging career-highs in both points and assists, and at 44.4% from the field, could possibly top his career-best shooting percentage of 44.5% from two seasons ago. He’s second in the league in assists and second in steals, as well. He had 19 assists in a win over the Warriors last week. The team added SF Bojan Bogdanovic (14.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG) from the Nets around the trade deadline, and early returns on the transaction are extremely promising. He has had 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting in two of his last three games, including an 8-for-10 three-point shooting performance against Orlando. PF Markieff Morris (14.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG) has been finding his groove, too, as he had six 20-point games from January 29th to February 28th. SF Otto Porter (14.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG) and C Marcin Gortat (11.7 PPG, 11.2 RPG) join Wall, Beal and Morris in the starting five; Gortat is fifth in the league in FG% (58.3%) and Porter is 19th (52.2%, fourth among non-PFs/Cs). C Ian Mahinmi (3.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG) recently returned from a long-term injury while PG Brandon Jennings (8.3 PPG, 4.9 APG) signed with the team last week, and both have added key depth. SF Kelly Oubre Jr. (5.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG) plays key bench minutes, as well.

Due to Phoenix’s struggles this year, PG Eric Bledsoe (21.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.4 SPG) has flown pretty far under the national media radar despite being one of the league’s more well-rounded stars. He is in the top 10 among NBA point guards in scoring (9th), rebounding (5th), assists (9th) steals (10th) and blocks (0.47; 3rd). He dominated against Boston, scoring 28 points while dishing out nine assists and six rebounds. Bledsoe is joined in the backcourt by second-year SG Devin Booker (20.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.2 APG), who is a prolific scorer but has further to go in his development than some may realize—after all, he won’t turn 21 until next season. He turns the ball over 3.0 times per game, more than any other shooting guard in the league (unless you count de facto point guard James Harden). That said, his FG% of 42.5 and 3P% of 36.9 aren’t bad at all for this stage in his career. As of late, the starting five has consisted of Bledsoe, Booker, SF T.J. Warren (13.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.1 SPG), PF Marquese Chriss (8.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG) and C Alex Len (7.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG). Warren has scored at least 14 points in all six games since the All-Star break, and Chriss, a rookie, had a career-high five blocks to go with 10 points and six rebounds against the Celtics. Considered a project when drafted in the 2016 lottery, it’s encouraging how quickly he has improved his game. Len, on the other hand, has been something of a disappointment in his fourth year in the league. Phoenix hasn’t played him more than 16 minutes in any of the last three games, and PF Alan Williams (5.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG) is happily taking those minutes. He is averaging 14.8 PPG and 9.2 RPG since the All-Star break. Rookie PG Tyler Ulis (4.1 PPG) had a career-high 20 points and the game-winning three-pointer against Boston.

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