Phoenix has played the two best teams in the Eastern Conference in consecutive games. Following a 120-111 victory on Saturday afternoon over the Philadelphia 76ers, they are 2-0 in those games. The win pushes Phoenix to 16-9 and 8-1 in their last nine games. They have won 5 straight.
The Suns ae now 7-3 against teams with .500+ records. The gelling that we waited for in happening and the Suns are playing like a legitimate contender in the Western Conference. How can you not be happy with the way that they played on Saturday? The game never felt out of control and the team is letting the league know that they are worth watching.
Suns fans received promising news prior to the top off on Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia 76ers. For the second time all season (January 4), Phoenix would not be undermanned and out gunned, at least from a roster availability stand point.
Tip your cap to the depth of the Suns as the likes of E’Twaun Moore, Abdel Nader, and Langston Galloway have provided quality minutes in the absence of Dario Saric and Cameron Payne. They “stayed ready so you don’t have to get ready”, as Moore likes to say.
Ben Simmons was assigned to guard Devin Booker early on, as Danny Green took Chris Paul. The defensive length and versatility of the Sixers was a challenge. Their ability to seamlessly switch on defense lead to contested attempts, blocks, and turnovers. The result? An early 12-2 Philly run.
Monty first dipped into his bench squad with 5 minutes left in the first, opting to bring Cam Payne and Jae Crowder off the pine. It was Payne’s first action after missing 9 games. He looked a bit rusty initially, but the burst was back as he pushed the pace and pressed the Sixers’ defense.
Both teams shot 50% or better in the first. Suns down 5 after one.
Moore plays alongside CP3 to start the 2nd quarter. A more natural fit than Payne as the off-ball guard but Payne got those minutes to start the season. Monty has mentioned that Moore's in better shape now.— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) February 13, 2021
Dario Saric reminded us that he was missed on multiple plays in the second. A pick-and-roll layup, a well played passing lane steal, a mid-range floater, active hands forcing a turnover, and running the fast break resulting with an easy two for E’Twaun. Hustle plays from the second unit is what propelled this team early on this season, and Dario’s return reminded us of that.
It is clear that when Ayton leaves the floor, Dario is the backup five. The Sixers countered with their backup at center, Dwight Howard. When the two stand next to each other, you’d figure Howard has the advantage. But you can’t measure heart. And Dario is all heart.
Dario is just a basketball genius. I can’t say it enough. His off ball movement is artistic. Nothing breaks down when he’s on the floor. I missed him so much.— Mike Vigil (@protectedpick) February 13, 2021
The bench, intertwined with the starters, proved to be valuable in the first half. Philadelphia is a big, long team. Monty used his deep bench to mix and match lineups that flustered the Sixers offensive attack. On offense, the Suns scored consistently in a variety of different ways. The Suns bench outscored the Sixers bench by 19 in the first half, 29-10. Moore had 9 points, Dario added 8.
Simmons and Embiid lead the scoring attack with 16 and 15 respectfully (31 of Philly’s 53). Booker had 12 on 6-11 shooting. Phoenix only shot 9 three’s, making 2 (which I love. Live by the three, die by the three).
10 ties, 11 lead changes, and a competitive first half. Game tied at 53 after 2.
Dario Saric and Jae Crowder guard Embiid/Simmons about as well as you possibly could. Love this. pic.twitter.com/bp42yaIw63— David Kevin (@theIVpointplay) February 13, 2021
The role players for the 76ers began to flex in the third as Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and Danny Green began exerting their ability to score. They key to defeating Philly is to know that Simmons and Embiid will get theirs; don’t let the other guys cook. Harris averages 20.2 points-per-game, so you know he will take the shots. At one point in the third the Sixers made 6 consecutive shots.
The Suns continued to display intestinal fortitude and the ability to match the 76ers blow for blow. Booker and Paul were the offense through the first 10 minutes of Q3. The Monsters of the Mid-range were responsible for 24 of the Suns first 29.
And Book looked good doing it. In his career he averages 29.1 points-per-game against the Sixers in 10 games. He played the entire third and scored 16 on 6-9 shooting.
The Suns closed on a 13-5 run and found themselves up 5 entering the 4th.
The three’s began to fall early in Q4 for Phoenix as Jae Crowder and Dario Saric took advantage of a Philadelphia team that was collapsing on the interior. If the shots are that wide open, take them. The lead ballooned to 11 for Phoenix.
The Sixers response? Feed Embiid. He had 8 straight points in a plethora of different ways. Spin moves, elbow jumpers, dunks; Joel is a legitimate MVP contender.
The whistles began to show up and hurt Phoenix midway through the 4th and the 76ers were in the bonus with 7:00 minutes left in the game. The Suns were up 10 when this occurred.
The calls? Questionable. The Philly strategy? Attack and get force the calls.
only team I fear is the officiating crew. every game— Andrew (@AndrewLeezus) February 13, 2021
As Eddie Johnsons stated on the broadcast, the Suns imparted “controlled dominance in the 2nd half”. The team continued to pressure the opposition with crisp execution on both ends of the floor. The game felt in control the entire game
Chris Paul had a double-double with 18 and 10, Ayton added 11 and 6 boards, and Saric lead bench scoring with 11. They outscored the Sixer 67-56 in the second half and win the game 120-111.
Star of the Game
Boston and Philly: two teams DBook loves to play against In the 7 games since coming back from his injury he has been playing like the Booker we know and love. He is aggressive when he needs to be aggressive. When he felt the team in an offensive rut in the 3rd, he put them on his back and carried him. That is what a star does.
He is averaging 28.9 points per game and solidifying his case to be an All Star. So get him there!
How much do you love the Suns? They love you...and they are giving you a Valentine’s Day matchup that is magical.
Phoenix plays the Orlando Magic tomorrow evening at 7:00pm. You know, right in the middle of the romantic dinner you have planned. Keep an air pod in your left ear and have your iHeart radio app on. Let Al McCoy’s soft voice speak to you about the wham, bam, slams that are occurring in downtown Phoenix. You’re date will wondering why you are smiling ear to ear during your date. You can tell them it’s because you’re in love...(with the Suns).