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Game Preview: Suns visit struggling Sixers, 5:30 tipoff in the City of Brotherly Love

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The Phoenix Suns (4-9) take on the Philadelphia 76ers (2-10) on Saturday night.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers

When: 5:30pm

Watch: FoxSports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


As the rotation turns, the Phoenix Suns come to Philadelphia off a big win over Indiana fueled by the unplanned - if not unexpected by the most ardent Suns fans - performances from Alan “Big Sauce” Williams and rookie Tyler Ulis.

Williams and Ulis both posted career highs after sitting for most of the season’s opening games. They played partially thanks to injury and illness among the Suns starters, and partially at the expense of Dragan Bender’s DNP-CD.

The Sixers

Somehow, the Sixers are by far the worst team out there right now.

(after Friday’s big win, the Suns are 17th on offense and 24th on D per nba.com)

Philly comes into Saturday night with an unbelievable set of injury issues, killing their rebuilding effort so far. Top rookie Ben Simmons, 4th year center Nerlens Noel and Suns-killer combo guard Jerryd Bayless have yet to suit up for the Sixers this season, while Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor have been on minutes restrictions. Simmons, Noel, Embiid and Okafor are the Sixers top draft picks the last four years.

As a result, the 2-10 Sixers are getting waxed on a nightly basis, including an embarrassing blowout to the otherwise disappointing Wolves on Wednesday. Three of their top five minutes-getters this season are 29 or older. Sergio Rodriguez has been running the point, but he’s only scoring 7 points per game on 35% shooting and the Sixers are last on offense overall. In the mayhem, Ersan Ilyasova is enjoying a career resurgence with 12.4 points per game, including 42% three point shooting while Gerald Henderson is holding down the shooting guard position since Nik Stauskas can’t grab it for himself.

Among the young players, Joel Embiid has been as good as advertised in his 22 minutes per game (17 points and 7 rebounds), Dario Saric is playing well (10 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes) and Jahlil Okafor is still trying re-find his game (10 and 3 in 20 minutes). The Sixers have other young players, but none have the high ceiling of these three plus Noel and Simmons.

Injuries and outs

For the Sixers:

  • It’s possible that Bayless, who loves to play the Suns as long as Grant Hill isn’t, will debut tonight after a rehab at the D-League level.
  • Embiid might sit out (ankle), giving Okafor a clearer role off the bench tonight against the Suns.

For the Suns:

  • Keep an eye out for reports on T.J. Warren’s illness that held him to 9 minutes on Friday
  • Also, keep an eye out on Devin Booker (ankle)
  • Tyson Chandler will miss the game (mom’s funeral)

Prediction

I have no clue. The Suns are a head-scratcher.

The Suns could easily come out flat and get beaten by the lowly Sixers, just like they were beaten by the Nuggets and Nets over the past week.

The Suns could come out like gangbusters and blow out the Sixers, just like they took it to the Pacers last night.

Who knows.

Okay, okay, I’ll make a prediction: Dragan Bender will get some burn tonight. Probably 20+ minutes unless he plays terrible. I’d love to see him match up against Dario Saric, though their games are quite different and Saric is 4 years older.