What: Phoenix Suns (43-10) @ Philadelphia 76ers (32-21)
When: 5:00 PM AZ Time
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Watch: Bally Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
The Phoenix Suns are now a league-best 17-3 versus Eastern Conference teams. They are also a league-best 21-5 on the road. This will be their first matchup of the season against the 76ers.
The Suns defeated the Bulls in Chicago tonight and have a league best 17-3 record against Eastern Conference teams. pic.twitter.com/TLrpmYxCgh— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 8, 2022
They will be facing a Philadelphia team led by MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who is playing incredible basketball this season. It will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Suns against a rested Philly squad, adding to the difficulty of this challenge on the road in a hostile environment.
Phoenix has been getting their opponents’ best shot night in, night out. They have a target on their back with that shiny 43-10 record, and everyone else wants a piece of it to make a statement. I’m looking forward to the intensity from both sides in this one.
- Chris Paul
- Devin Booker
- Mikal Bridges
- Jae Crowder
- Deandre Ayton
- Tyrese Maxey
- Seth Curry
- Danny Green
- Tobias Harris
- Joel Embiid
- Cam Payne — OUT
- Landry Shamet — OUT
- Abdel Nader — OUT
- Frank Kaminsky — OUT
- Dario Saric — OUT
- Mattise Thybulle — Questionable
- Shake Milton — OUT
- Ben Simmons — OUT
What to Watch
- Embiid vs. Ayton
This is the battle of the night, and likely going to determine the outcome of the game. How can the Suns stop Joel Embiid? Well, it’s likely going to be by committee. Luckily for them, they have more depth than usual at their disposal with JaVale McGee, Bismack Biyombo and even Jalen Smith that they can throw at Embiid should Ayton get into foul trouble.
Defending Embiid is a similar challenge to that of Giannis, as they both impose their will and initiate contact, forcing refs to make calls. That nonstop aggressive nature is one major reason why Embiid is an MVP candidate and leading the NBA in FTAs per game at 11.1.
Keeping him off the line probably isn’t going to happen, but at the very least you have to make him work
- Let Book cook
Devin Booker averages a career-best 28.8 points per game against Philadelphia in his career on a 61.5 TS%. He is 5-3 vs. the 76ers since 2017, averaging 35.3 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.9 RPG on an absurd 64.7 TS% and 51.1 FG%.
Suns play the 76ers tomorrow— RB (@RyB_311) February 7, 2022
Devin Booker against the 76ers since 2017:
35.3 PPG (had a streak of 7 straight 30 point games)
64.7 TS% pic.twitter.com/6ARQwVBOnJ
Book loves to play against Philly, we’ve seen some of his best moments come against the 76ers over the years pre-CP3 and Monty. If Thybulle is out (questionable) then the 76ers will have trouble defending Booker yet again. Keep an eye out for another big first-quarter scoring output from Booker, the NBA leader in opening quarter scoring.
The two key points here may focus on Booker and Embiid, but it would be remiss to not include the supporting casts of each team along with that guy they call the “Point God”. Phoenix will need to do its best to contain both Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry, who will make you pay if you give them space. Phoenix has the clear edge in the backcourt (as they do every night) but they cannot “get happy on the farm” tonight.
Tobias Harris has been playing the best basketball of his season of late, so Phoenix will also need to ensure they bother him defensively. One would imagine that responsibility will be divided up by Crowder, Bridges, and Johnson. There are plenty of interesting matchups to watch, stay tuned.
Suns pull off a close one in the final moments, 118-115.