The Suns got their four-game road trip started on the right foot Sunday night, though they needed to come back from 20 points down to do it. That being said, the confidence built after their previous 1-4 road swing couldn’t have been better timed as Phoenix tries to keep pace in the Western Conference.
They had little time to celebrate their rally, immediately flying out to Philadelphia. The 76ers have lost five of their last six and nine of their last 11, most recently to Oklahoma City on Saturday.
The Suns are hoping their second meeting with Philadelphia ends up much like the first, when Phoenix won handily 115-101. Whether that happens again will depend on a handful of factors in tonight’s game.
Start of the Game
Phoenix started Sunday night flat and needed a flurry of third-quarter three-pointers and furious defensive plays to take the lead and the win.
Will fatigue play a factor after the effort needed in the comeback? And can the Suns avoid needing a similar rally?
In victories this season, Phoenix wins the first quarter by an average of 2.4 points. In defeats, they’ve lost the period by 2.2 points.
Can Phoenix keep Philadelphia on ice? Over the nine games, the 76ers have hit at least 40 percent of their three-pointers just twice, and both of those occasions turned out to be victories.
The Suns yielded 54 percent shooting to Cleveland in the first half on Sunday before buckling down and limiting them to just 23.8 percent after halftime. If they can find at least a happy middle ground, the Sixers should continue to be limited, offensively.
Run, Run, Run
The Sixers play the fastest pace in the league (103.6 possessions per 48 minutes), but that only fed the Suns’ fire in the previous meeting between the two teams. Phoenix lit them up for 31 fast break points in that meeting, alternating between layups for the guards and dunks for the bigs.
The Suns will likely want to be more efficient from distance than last time, when the went 9-of-33 from three-point range. Still, between two times that love to run, Phoenix has appeared more capable of doing so with results.
Will Keef Keep It Up?
Markieff Morris is on a tear, having scored in double figures in six consecutive games after a five-game stretch where he eclipsed 10 points just once.
The Suns sixth man proved on Sunday (27 points, 15 rebounds) and throughout the season that he’s capable of swinging games with one of the more versatile offensive skill sets on the team. When he does, thebench becomes much more capable of holding and even building leads.
Suns Vs. Young
Thaddeus Young was a problem for Phoenix in their previous meeting, going off for 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting and adding 10 rebounds.
Young is a unique matchup for anyone, offering a combination of speed and strength that is difficult to match at the power forward position.
If Young is again troublesome and the game gets tight, don’t be surprised to see Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek tweak his lineups and/or matchups to maintain control.