There are low points within every NBA season: treacherous road trips that take a toll on a player’s body, long losing streaks, and cold nights from the field, but there have been fewer low points over the last couple of seasons than losing to the Philadelphia 76ers at home. Now, the cast of characters for Philly may be a bit different — especially that really big dude named Embiid who can definitely play some hoop — but you still shouldn’t be losing to them on your home court. Games against the Sixers are supposed to right the ship, not sink it.
After a first half worthy of the naughty list, Phoenix found a jollier tune in the second half and found a way to win.
Some assorted thoughts:
- Devin Booker masked an inefficient first half with some nifty playmaking, en route to four assists. Philly’s knack for pushing the pace should mesh well with Booker’s spot up game, and he eventually was able to find the range once the second half was underway. The assists are a nice development that should continue to trend upward over time. Book is a better passer than perhaps even he realizes and he should look to leverage the attention he garners as a weapon to find open teammates. You would think that there would be a bigger emphasis on off-the-ball cutting when Book operates on the block, and I am intrigued to watch his playmaking evolve as his vision improves.
- If you weren’t familiar with Joel “The Process” Embiid prior to tonight, please take the proper measures to change that going forward. Dude is an effortless athlete that packs the ferociousness of a elderly man trying to send back soup at a deli (pretty damn ferocious, let me tell you), with the same amount of grace as Elaine Benes. Embiid is just as likely to bully you in the post as he is to drop a holy jumper right in your eyeball.
^ That is not exactly fair.
- I really enjoy Sergio Rodriguez’s game. He is heady and sometimes even flashy when the time is right, and fits in with what Philly has going on offensively. Bless T.J. McConnell’s heart, but it is a welcomed change to see Philly spearheaded by a point guard who at least has a sense of how to run the show.
- Nothing gets the Trade Machine juices flowing quite like watching Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel be miscast in the same game.
- ^ Ditto for Brandon Knight.
- You hear that? That’s the angry mob of Suns’ Twitter planning to riot the practice facility to get Dragan Bender some time on the court. My take: I commend Coach Watson for resisting the temptation to overbear the rookie just for the hell of it, and don’t really agree with the outcry. Watching P.J. Tucker play a spirited forty minutes may not be as enlightening as it once was, but would watching Bender air ball two threes per game be either? Despite all of the promise and potential oozing from his wiry frame, Bender is far from ready from making a consistent impact at this level, and I am going to bet that Watson and the rest of the coaching staff has a better grip on that realty than those of us who are on the outside looking in. Confidence is precious for a young player —- a few poor performances can have everlasting effects with little chance for recourse. Bender is going to find his way onto the court during the dog days of March and April. There will be euphoric moments, and there will be moments that will spew a flurry of “smh” tweets. Now is the time to run the veterans on empty with the hope of striking gains at the deadline.
- Eric Bledsoe a picked his spots when it came to his shot, electing to play the role of playmaker for most of the night before asserting himself late. In most cases, this sort of mantra would be admirable, but the Suns sorely need Bledsoe’s scoring prowess sprinkled throughout the game as the starting five lacks some off-the-dribble oomph. Shoot more man, you are a joy to watch.
- Let’s give some special holiday cheer to T.J. Warren doing T.J. Warren things.
Here is a box score for those that may be interested.
Have a great holiday everyone. Don’t let your crazy uncle get control of the eggnog too early.