Monday, January 27, 2014, 7:00PM (EST) at Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Posted: January 27, 2014
On December 28, the Sixers (14-30) kicked off a five-game Western Conference road trip in Phoenix. Monday night, the Suns (25-18) travel to Philadelphia for the second and final game of the season series.
Matchup to Watch
PG Michael Carter-Williams vs. PG/SG Goran Dragic
The last time the Sixers and Suns met, rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams notched what was then his fourth career 25+ point performance, scoring 27 points to go along with six assists, six rebounds, and four steals. Monday, he’ll look to bounce back from an eight-point, four-assist outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. That game was preceded by a three-game stretch during which Carter-Williams averaged 23.3 points (43.6 FG%, 66.7 3P%), 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 2.3 steals.
Lefty combo guard Goran Dragic scored 21 points in the Suns’ win over the Sixers last month and also dished out five assists. In the absence of backcourt partner Eric Bledsoe, who hasn’t played since December 30 due to a knee injury, Dragic has seen his offensive role increase. He’s averaging a team-high 21.2 points (50.0 FG%, 40.4 3P%) in 13 games without Bledsoe, also averaging 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. His usage rate in games played with Bledsoe is 23.2% compared to 26.4% in games without him.
What To Watch For
Led by rookie head coaches Brett Brown and Jeff Hornacek, both the Sixers and Suns have both embraced an up-tempo style of play offensively. Phoenix leads the league in fastbreak points, scoring 18.7 per game, while Philadelphia ranks third in that category, averaging 17.1 per game. But with Eric Bledsoe (knee) sidelined, the Suns’ transition attack has taken a hit. In Phoenix’ 99-90 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday, Hornacek’s squad scored just five fastbreak points, a season low.
Philadelphia natives, former Kansas teammates, and identical twins Markieff and Marcus Morris have had their best seasons to date playing their first full campaign as teammates in the NBA. Markieff was drafted by the Suns with the 13th-overall pick in 2011, while Marcus was selected by the Houston Rockets with the very next pick. On the eve of last year’s trade deadline, the Rockets traded him to the Suns in exchange for a second-round pick. Marcus is averaging 9.9 points (42.8 FG%, 37.2 3P%) and 4.3 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game off the bench, while Markieff is averaging 12.7 points (47.8 FG%, 35.4 3P%) and 6.0 rebounds through in 25.0 minutes per game in the same role. In Sunday’s win over the Cavaliers, Markieff scored 27 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.
Swingman Gerald Green has been one of the league’s more intriguing stories this season. Despite boasting a 6’8” frame and all-world athleticism that helped him win a Slam Dunk Contest crown in 2007, he has yet to catch on with a team for more than two seasons since being drafted in 2005. The 28-year-old has played for seven different teams since then, not including the two Russian Super League teams he played for between 2009 and 2011. In 2013-14, Green has found a comfortable home in Phoenix, putting together his best professional season to date. On the year, he’s averaging career highs in points (13.5 PPG) and threes made (2.3 3PM/g), and minutes (28.0 MPG). Monday’s game will mark his 26th start as a Sun, his most starts in a season since 2006-07 with the Boston Celtics.
Last Time They Met
Sixers 101, Suns 105 – December 28, 2013