The Suns lost to the Sixers on Sunday night, 123-110, despite an inspiring second-half comeback.
Here’s the good, the bad and the undecipherable from #TheTimeline’s battle with #TheProcess.
Bad: The Suns can beat teams on offense with ball and player movement, but they weren’t doing either crisply enough to overcome the swarming length of Philadelphia’s defenders. In the halfcourt, the Suns struggled with turnovers and errant passes in the early part of the game.
TBD: Dragan Bender is naturally a facilitator. He hit T.J. Warren like a quarterback who knows the routes as well as his receivers, on a bounce pass into the paint, early in the first. Yet soon after, he deferred to Josh Jackson behind the arc despite being open for three himself. He then opted for a mid-ranger when Philadelphia ran him off the three-point line instead of trying to dribble to the rim. I don’t yet know if this tendency from him is altogether good or bad.
Bad: The Sixers’ length was a consistent problem for the Suns, but especially in the case of the Marquese Chriss-Dario Saric matchup. Saric scored 16 points in the first half, and his aggressiveness was the primary reason Chriss tallied three fouls in his six first-half minutes.
Bad: The Suns, like most teams, had no answer for Joel Embiid. The Sixers’ center didn’t even score all that well, but occupied so much attention from the Suns’ bigs that holes started opening up on offense. He was also huge deterrent at the rim on defense in the second quarter.
Good: Tyson Chandler presented his own problems for Philadelphia’s interior defenders, especially catching lobs around the rim, which made it all the more surprising when rotation big man Richaun Holmes failed to log even one minute in the first half.
TBD: Philadelphia stymied Devin Booker throughout tonight’s game by sending a second defender his way as soon as he touched the ball. Most of the time, he found an open man without turning the ball over, but when he was forced to shoot or dribble it ended badly.
Good: Tony Buckets getting buckets. You already know. Warren brought the Suns back from a 14-point halftime deficit to tie the game near the end of the third quarter, scoring nine points in the period. I have to mention Devin Booker here as well. He caught fire like few guys are able, and was a huge part of the Suns’ third quarter run as well.
Good: Tyson Chandler’s defense on Joel Embiid. On most halfcourt possessions, Philadelphia’s best option is a Embiid postup. Chandler put pressure on Embiid constantly, and the Sixers could not find good shots that way. The Sixers’ center turned the ball over six times.
Bad: Until Josh Jackson puts it together more consistently, the Suns lack the wing defense they need to stop players like Ben Simmons. That was part of their eventual downfall tonight, as Simmons made a layup that put Philadelphia up eight and clinched the victory. Simmons scored nine points in the fourth quarter.