Preview: 76ers welcome the first place Phoenix Suns to South Philadelphia
A tough February schedule continues tonight, as the Philadelphia 76ers welcome the Phoenix Suns to South Philadelphia.
The Phoenix Suns are currently first place in the Western Conference with a 41-10 record. The Golden State Warriors sit in second in the Western Conference, 2.5 games behind Phoenix. From there, the Grizzlies are seven games back in third place. Phoenix has won 13 of its last 14 games and are simply destroying opponents.
Tonight, the Suns arrive on the second leg of a back-to-back after taking down the Bulls in Chicago last night. There’s no denying the affect back-to-backs can have on a teams fatigue and preparation, but great teams don’t let scheduling hold them back. Sixers fans can remember the last back-to-back for the 76ers saw the squad win in Miami despite hosting the Celtics the night before.
Philly currently holds the fifth seed in the East standings with a 32-21 record. They remain just two games out of the top spot, and only a half game out of the third seed. The East has been a tight race between the first and sixth seed all year, and each loss and win could mean the difference in seeding as the All-Star break approaches.
- Dario Saric (Out)
- Abdel Nader (Out)
- Frank Kaminsky (Out)
- Cameron Payne (Out)
- Landry Shamet (Out)
- Matisse Thybulle (Questionable)
- Shake Milton (Out)
- Ben Simmons (lol)
Slow Down Devin Booker
The Suns have a deep rotation of guys playing above expectations, but Phoenix’s scoring goes through Devin Booker. Book is currently averaging 25.5 points a game for the Suns, and has scored 30+ points in three of their last four contests. Against the Bulls last night Booker dropped 38 points while shooting 60-percent from the field including five made triples.
While the 76ers will have their hands full with this Suns squad in general, Devin Booker can take over games almost by himself. If Philly wants to take down another top team in the West tonight on home court, they’ll need to slow down Booker.
Hopefully Matisse Thybulle will be good to go for the 76ers, as he’s shown the ability to give some of the best offensive guards in the Association nightmares in Wells Fargo Center.
The Point God Chris Paul
Chris Paul has arguably been the most important player for this Suns team’s success. The Point God is currently averaging 15 points and 10 assists a game for Phoenix, the classic stat line of an elite facilitator like Chris Paul. There’s a reason that six players outside Booker and Paul are averaging 10+ points a game, and it is the elite facilitation ability of Paul.
While I believe that the 76ers somewhat have an answer for Devin Booker in Matisse Thybulle, I truly don’t know if anyone can contain Chris Paul the way he’s played so far this season. His elite mid-range game and finishing around the hoop demands defensive attention.
Paul uses that attention to get his teammates easy baskets, evident by the fact he currently leads the league in assists. Even an off-night of shooting from Chris Paul doesn’t handicap his ability to effect the game if he can set his teammates up with ease.
Tonight’s odds brought to you by Parx Sportsbook, the official gambling partner of The Liberty Line.
|Phoenix Suns||-106||+1 (-112)||O 218.5 (-109)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-114||-1 (-109)||U 218.5 (-112)|
With the trade deadline approaching and Simmons rumors flying around, make sure to appreciate the amazing contest on tonight between the 76ers and Suns. The odds certainly suggest a great matchup with a one-point spread.
Unfortunately with Thybulle’s status unclear and Chris Paul playing some of his best basketball I just don’t see the 76ers getting a win here. Don’t get me wrong Embiid will completely dismantle DeAndre Ayton and JaVale McGee, but it won’t be enough to keep up with this Phoenix offense.
Even on the second game of a back-to-back I’m going to put my money on the team that dropped 127 points on the Bulls in regulation last night.
However, I’d happily lose money if that means the 76ers take down another top seeded West team.
Mandatory Credit: Jim Camporeale.