While pouring over Phoenix's stats to prepare for this preview, I couldn't help but wish Alvin Gentry hadn't benched Michael Beasley.
It's a short turnaround after what was an emotional win in LA (probably more emotional than it needed to be, but that's beside the point) and a quick flight to Arizona. Phoenix is well-rested...and a terrible team. Turner played 41 minutes last night, Jrue 39 and Thad 36. No one else broke 30.
The Suns have a few guys with excellent offensive numbers, Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat and Goran Dragic are all playing really solid offensive basketball. As a team, though, the Suns can't stop anyone. They rank 27th in the league in defensive efficiency (109 pts/100 possessions). Their middle-of-the-road offense (15th in the league) can't nearly offset their defensive deficiencies. Their main weaknesses are at the point in Dragic and at PF in Scola. If/when Beasley gets into the game, he's terrible as well.
If you look at their offensive numbers, it's hard to figure out how they're only ranked #15, until you check out Michael Beasley's stats. Beasley has a 25.9% usage rate, with a .442 TS% and 15.2% turnover rate. Honestly, those numbers are offensive. Beasley was removed from the starting lineup on December 8th. Since then, his minutes have fallen off a cliff (16mpg), but the team hasn't exactly responded. The Suns are currently mired in a six-game losing streak, the sixth coming Monday night in Oklahoma City.
This was the one game on the Sixers current eight-game trip which should've realistically been penciled in as a win. It's a game they absolutely must have, but it's never easy to win the second night of a back-to-back, on the road. Especially coming off a win like last night's against the Lakers. This young team needs to come out aggressive and attacking, and they need to stay that way until this game is no longer in doubt. If they're lazy on the defensive end, Dragic and Co. will carve them up and they won't have enough left in the tank to mount a successful comeback.
No letdown, you're not good enough to take anyone lightly and if you lose focus for a second, this trip is going to swallow you up.
The tip is at 9pm. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout, join me if you're crossing your fingers hoping the Sixers weren't up late reading their own headlines last night.