|NBA: Phoenix Suns at Washington Wizards Preview, Matchup, Picks & Odds|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Friday, 07 December 2007 07:00|
The Phoenix Suns have led the NBA in scoring in each of the last three seasons, so it's not easy to put on an offensive display that impresses coach Mike D'Antoni.
With its latest performance, however, Phoenix did just that.
The Suns look to build on their highest scoring output of the season on Friday when they visit the Washington Wizards, who have been another one of the league's top offensive teams lately despite missing Gilbert Arenas.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Phoenix –6.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 224 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 87% of bets for this game have been placed on Phoenix –6.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).
Seven Phoenix players scored in double figures as the Suns (15-4) beat Toronto 136-123 on Wednesday night. Leandro Barbosa had 35 points off the bench, Amare Stoudemire added 25 and shot 9-for-11 from the field, and Steve Nash had a season-high 18 assists as the Suns won for the 12th time in 14 games.
"Offensively we were just awesome," said D'Antoni, whose team hadn't scored that many points since a 137-122 win at Memphis on Jan. 15. "(The Raptors are) a good defensive team. They've been holding people to 43 percent. They're good, but we just have a lot of weapons."
After surpassing 31 assists once in its first 16 games, Phoenix has recorded 37, 38 and 38 in its three December games. Stoudemire has averaged 31.7 points on 69.2 percent shooting this month while the Suns have scored 124.0 points per game and hit 55.5 percent from the field.
"When the ball moves, we're difficult to defend," said Nash, leading the league with a career-high 11.8 assists per contest.
Though the Suns have topped the league in scoring in each season since Nash's arrival in 2004-05, their current average of 110.5 points is their highest since they scored 110.6 per game in 1994-95.
D'Antoni, however, thinks there's still room for improvement.
"We should be able to," D'Antoni said when asked if his team could surpass Wednesday's 136-point mark this season. "We'll see. We want to keep getting better and keep people in the flow and get everybody individually good. We're almost there. We're not rolling yet on all cylinders."
That's bad news for the rest of the league, but the Wizards (9-9) are a team that can potentially keep up with Phoenix's frenetic offense.
Washington has scored at least 100 points in 11 of its last 13 games despite playing most of those games without Arenas - the team's leading scorer last season who's recovering from left knee surgery. Arenas likely won't return until mid-February.
The Wizards improved to 9-3 when they score at least 100 points with Wednesday's 105-86 victory over Cleveland, the team that has eliminated Washington in the playoffs each of the last two seasons.
"They've been bullying us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We want to return the favor."
The Wizards have averaged 113.6 points in their last five games against the Suns and are 3-2 against them in that stretch. Washington won an overtime thriller 144-139 in Phoenix last season, but lost at home 127-105 in the teams' other meeting.
Nash averaged 34.5 points and 13.0 assists while shooting 65.8 percent from the field against Washington last season.
Arenas was Washington's leading scorer in both games against the Suns while teammate Caron Butler averaged 29.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals.
Butler is averaging 23.2 points and shooting 53.0 percent from the field this season - both career highs. The Wizards are 7-2 when he scores at least 24 points, compared to 2-7 when he doesn't.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
More NBA Basketball Coverage from theSpread.com
- NBA Basketball teams