The forgotten team in the Orlando trade mess of a week or so ago was the same Phoenix Suns the Sixers will take on later tonight. There's a chance Vince Carter will make his debut for the Suns, but the guy who's been filling in as the starting SG in Jason Richardson's absence has put together a couple impressive games in his interim role as starter.
Los Suns have dropped three straight since making the trade, including a road loss to the Clippers on Sunday. Honestly, since letting Amare Stoudemire walk this past summer, Phoenix has been in a downward spiral. They have no interior presence, they don't really have a wing scorer either (though Jared Dudley exploded for 60 points in his first two starts following the trade). Basically, Steve Nash is somehow orchestrating a cast of misfits into the third-best offensive team in the league (in OFR). Unfortunately, they're the worst defensive team and that has led to a 13-16 record.
This is a game the Sixers could win. I actually like their odds, if Iguodala plays. Without Iguodala, though, it's a long shot. A couple of guys worry me on Phoenix's roster let's break it down with a few other keys:
- Steve Nash - Obviously. Nash is deadly on the offensive end in so many ways. Jrue can't give Nash too much air space, he needs to fight over every screen and avoid silly fouls because he's got the best matchup on the other end. For all the brilliance Nash displays on the offensive end, he's equally miserable defensively. Jrue has scored 45 points on 26 shots over his past two games. If he stays aggressive, he could easily drop 30 on Phoenix tonight, and the team might just need that type of production.
- Hakim Warrick - This guy consistently kills the Sixers. Thad is going to have his hands full.
- Lopez/Gortat - The Sixers have problems with athletic, active bigs. Both of these guys fit that mold. Someone needs to keep a body on them to keep them off the offensive glass.
- Pace - Phoenix averages 94.8 possessions/48 minutes. Slowing them down will be key, especially if Iguodala is out.
- Elton Brand - If Frye and Warrick wind up guarding Brand, he should dominate. If the Suns switch their matchups in the frontcourt, though, he's going to have length on him all night and it's going to be harder.
Earlier, Iguodala was considered a game-time decision, he's since been changed to doubtful. I think it's extremely likely he doesn't play.
Prediction: Suns 112, Sixers 105 (without Iguodala). Sixers 110, Suns 102 (with Iguodala).
The tip is at 9pm (Eastern), game thread will be up at 7:30. Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments.