As the Sixers difficult western road trip continues, they will face off against the Suns tonight in Phoenix. Before the road trip even started, there's no question that tonight's game was looking like the most easily winnable game for the Sixers, and for good reason. The Phoenix Suns are simply not very good. They're 11-21. They're 4-6 in their last 10 games, which includes a most recent 6 game losing streak.
So then it's all unicorns and cupcakes and rainbows for the Sixers tonight then, right? Easy win? I mean, if the Sixers can beat the Lakers like they did last night, how could they possibly lose to the struggling Phoenix Suns?
Possibly. But two words might indicate otherwise: trap game. Think about it: the Sixers are coming off a big win over the Lakers last night. The Suns haven't played since Monday, so they'll be more rested. Earlier in the year the Sixers almost lost to the Suns if it were not for Michael Beasley missing a fairly easy lay-up attempt to tie the game. Phoenix have been on a losing streak and are bound to be hungry for a win. Despite their losing streak, they played some tough teams during that stretch including Portland, LAC, NYK, Pacers, T-Wolves, and OKC.
Make no mistake: this is still a very winnable game for the Sixers. They just won't be able to sleep walk through this one if they play like they did the last time the two teams met.
Sixers keys to winning:
Last time these two teams met, Jrue Holiday had a career performance. He scored 33 points on 21 shots, and added 13 assists with only 2 turnovers. Very efficient. He also got to the FT line 8 times. He held Suns PG Goran Dragic to a measly 10 points on 4-10 shooting. If Jrue can build off his impressive performance last night and emulate a performance like this aforementioned one, the Sixers shouldn't have problem scoring points. Especially since the Suns don't have a stellar defense (109 Def Rtg, ranked 27th).
Evan Turner also performed well against the Lakers last night, so he'll also be looking to build off a strong performance. Earlier in the year Turner hit three 3's against the Suns, so maybe he'll find some success from beyond the arc again tonight.
The Sixers attempted 23 free throws the last time these two teams met, which is pretty incredible because I'm not sure the Sixers actually understand the concept of consistently going to the hoop and drawing contact. They'll be in a position to succeed if they can emulate that success again.
How things could go wrong:
As you know, one of the Sixers' strengths is to force turnovers and try to get easy points off said turnovers. The bad news for the Sixers is that the Suns do a fairly decent job at taking care of the ball (4th in fewest turnovers per game). Instead of relying on the forced turnovers, the Sixers will need to exploit that weak Suns defense.
Another problematic area has been the abomination that is known as the "Sixers front court". In their prior match up Suns C Marcin Gortat had 18 points on 11 shots and gave the Sixers' bigs fits. If the front court plays as bad as they've been, they will certainly struggle. However, the good news is that the Sixers front court has played relatively better recently. Kwame Brown put in an actually decent effort against the Golden State Warriors last week and did an OK job against Dwight last night. Lavoy Allen has been able to hit some jumpers and pull down some tough boards. Even Spencer Hawes, who (whom?) I loathe, put in an OK performance against the Lakers last night. If the Sixers front court can be not horrible, that would go a long way in helping the Sixers win.
- Sixers are 2-3 on this road trip now. Tonight would be a good opportunity to get a W because the next two games figure to be very tough: @ Spurs and @ Oklahoma City Thunder.
- Sixers are 2-5 in the second game of back-to-backs this season. Those 2 wins came against the Raptors and the Suns.
- Andrew Bynum update next week, apparently?
- Bold prediction: Luis Scola will annoy the heck out of everyone tonight.
- Song reference in the title, in case you didn't get it somehow.
- Philadelphia 76ers Tickets
- Complete 76ers vs Suns coverage
- Phoenix perspective - Bright Side Of The Sun
The Sixers lose in a trap game, 100-99.
Another late game. Tip is at 9 PM EST. GameThread will be up at 8:30 - don't forget to join us! You can catch the game on CSN. You can listen live on the radio on 97.5 The Fanatic.