On Tuesday, the Sixers opened up the new year with a 119-113 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. After that, uhh, game against Portland to end the 2018 portion of the schedule, it was good to see the Sixers bouncing back.
Now, they’ll have a good chance to keep 2019 going in the right direction in Wednesday’s meeting with the Phoenix Suns.
Phoenix (9-29) is basically the only team in the Western Conference that can definitively be called out of contention. They allow the seventh-most points per game and have the NBA’s third-worst net rating. Theoretically, the Sixers should be able to score with ease, especially with Philadelphia’s big three available. Phoenix has hemorrhaged points while doing 1-5 over the last six games.
In the first meeting between these teams, the Sixers emerged with a 119-114 victory in a game where Devin Booker put up 37 points. Booker is a concern on Wednesday; since returning to the lineup on December 15th, Booker is averaging 28.4 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting, and Philadelphia’s perimeter defense this season has had its bad moments. Stopping Booker will be key to this team turning a close, competitive game into a easy-ish victory. The only other player who feels like a real threat at this point is rookie center Deandre Ayton, but Joel Embiid has the physical skill set to halt Ayton’s offensive game, and the rookie has still yet to develop enough on the other end to offer much of a threat. Embiid can and should have a big night.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers @ Phoenix Suns
When: 9:00pm EST
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Sixers: Markelle Fultz (out, shoulder), Zhaire Smith (out, foot), Justin Patton (out, foot)