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Sixers look to hand Suns fourth loss in a row

Joel Embiid was his dominant self last night, but it’ll take more than that to snag a win tonight in Phoenix.

Phoenix Suns v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

With both teams on the second legs of back-to-backs, the Philadelphia 76ers travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns Saturday night.

Philadelphia is currently trying to navigate this road trip with their lineup a bit beat up as the regular season winds to a close. On Friday night, the Sixers were missing James Harden, whose Achilles soreness has kept him out of the past two games, as well as Jalen McDaniels, who suffered a hip injury last Monday. Danuel House Jr. was also a late scratch from Friday’s contest with shoulder soreness. Basically, the Sixers have the possibility to be hampered once again by a crowded injury report for Saturday night, but we just have to wait and see when the injury reports are released.

However, the Sixers did receive a massive, 7-foot boost last night in Joel Embiid returning after suffering hamstring soreness that saw him exit the Sixers’ midweek contest vs. the Chicago Bulls at halftime. It certainly didn’t seem to be bothering him last night as he danced and spun his way to 46 points in the Sixers’ loss to the Warriors.

Injuries affect star-caliber players on both sides of this one, however. The Suns are still missing 13-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, out with a sprained ankle suffered during warm-ups on March 8. Durant only played three games with the Suns before the injury, averaging 26.7 points in those few appearances. Small sample size, sure, but it’s KD. Any missed time from him is a huge loss for his team. Another notable injury for the Suns is Deandre Ayton, ruled out early from this contest with a lingering hip injury, missing his fourth straight game.

All that considered, expect the Suns to be led by Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Booker tops the Suns squad in scoring with 28.2 points per game with Paul serving as Phoenix’s main facilitator, averaging 9.1 dimes per game. With Durant and Ayton out, the success of the Suns’ offense has recently been basically up to Booker’s performances. He is averaging 32.4 points per game in March, scoring over 30 in nine of thirteen games this month.

Phoenix suffered their third straight loss last night, falling 135-127 to the Sacramento Kings in the first leg of their back-to-back. Booker had 32 points and Paul notched a 15-point, 13-assist double-double. The 38-35 Suns are currently fifth in the Western Conference, half a game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place.

Meanwhile, the Sixers are coming off Friday night’s loss at the Warriors that snapped their seven-game road winning streak. Embiid scored a massive 46 points but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Warriors strength from beyond the arc. Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris were really the only other major offensive contributors for the Sixers. With Harden out, other members of the Sixers’ lineup are going to have to step up if they are going to be able to make up for that void and snag the win tonight.

The last time the Sixers and Suns met was way back on Nov. 7, 2022, at the Wells Fargo Center. The Suns were commanding the first few weeks of the season at 7-3 and the Sixers were struggling a bit at 4-6. Nevertheless, Embiid dropped 33 points and Georges Niang hit seven — yes, seven — three pointers to lead the Sixers to a 100-88 victory. The Sixers were without Harden in that matchup as well, as he had just suffered a right foot injury that would see him miss over a month of action.

The Sixers currently rank third in offensive rating (117.0) and sixth in defensive rating (111.9). For comparison, the Suns are 15th in offensive rating (114.2), and ninth in defensive (112.6).

Game Details

Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Phoenix Suns

When: 10:00 p.m. EST

Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Follow: @LibertyBallers

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