The Phoenix Suns, after pulling off another come-from-behind win on Friday, take to the road to play six games in 11 days. They start with the Philadelphia 76ers, who most notably are missing center Andrew Bynum, whom they acquire in the offseason in the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers. Bynum is out indefinitely with knee problems.
Instead of Bynum in the middle, the Sixers play Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes. That should be good news for Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal, who combined for 37 points on Wednesday. O'Neal also had 13 points and 11 board against the Hornets.
The game is at 4 PM Arizona time and will be televised on FSAZ. It can be heard on the radio on News/Talk 92.3 FM.
To help preview the game, I elicited the help of a former colleague, Vincent Heck (@HeckPhilly), who is a writer and Philly native. Here is what he said about his Sixers.
It was determined a couple weeks ago that Bynum has the same cartilage injury in both of his knees. He had precautionary surgery before the '12-'13 season began, before it was determined that both knees were injured *reportedly* they're saying it's a new injury created by a recent bowling outing he had. He is expected to learn in December whether or not he'll need additional surgery to his injured knees. That would keep him out for the entire season.
What do the Sixers do well:
The Sixers run the floor very well. Very fast and athletic team. Also, what makes them different from last season to this season is the fact that they're now very potent from beyond the arch. A big lead is never safe, and a close game is always in danger of being broken open due to their ability to score in bunches. A lot of points in short spans. The Sixers won't turnover the ball too much. They take care of the ball with the best of them. Last season they were the best in the NBA. This year they're 3rd best behind the NY Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks, so far. (This season, when we do turnover the ball, Jrue Holiday seems to be the one to do it.)
Despite that, the Sixers don't put up a lot of points per game. When they're not scoring in bunches, they can tend to be very sloppy. When the Sixers aren't on their game, winning the battle of the 50-50 balls might be the key to grabbing the upperhand. The Sixers also tend to have long stretches when they struggle to get the ball in the basket. Big bigmen on the opponents team seems to throw them off. When they're not as big or strong as the opponent, they struggle.
Thaddeus Young always presents a problem. He's small for a PF, but his speed and athleticism always presents a terrible matchup for true PFs.
Bench sharpshooter, Nick Young, has been playing very well. If he's on, he will seemingly play above what most expect from him.
This may not seem like a 'surprise' per se, but there's a chance Suns fans are surprised by the strides Jrue Holiday has taken from last year to this year. He's among the league leaders in PPG and APG putting up 18PPG and almost 9APG. He's truly stepping up as the Sixers new leader and face for the franchise.
The key to beating the Sixers is protecting the ball, forcing turnovers, and grabbing rebounds.
Statistically, the Suns show that they can do that. Currently, The Suns are 14th overall protecting the ball with 175 T.O.s this season, they're 2nd overall at forcing T.O.s, forcing 208 on the year and they're better than the Sixers (who are below the current league average) in rebounding. The Suns are standing at 8th overall in grabbing boards.
Thaddeus Young and Michael Beasley (if his head is in the game) could be a matchup to watch. Dragic and Holiday will be another one to watch.
With the Sixers being an explosive team, it looks like the recipe for another game in which Phoenix falls behind. Keep an eye on that.
For you fans watching, watch Nick Young. He hasn't met a shot he didn't like. Oh, and Jason Richardson starts for the team -- yes, the same J-Rich that didn't box out Ron Artest against the Lakers.
Also, Philly has young Evan Turner, who otherwise is not a superstar, but plays like it against the Suns. They will want to keep him in check.