Phoenix at Philadelphia
Time: 6 PM CT, NBA TV
Spread: PHI -11.5
Odds c/o Bovada
The Philadelphia 76ers are seeded No. 4 in the Eastern Conference currently at 11-7, as winners of its past two games. Philly hosts visiting Phoenix as 11.5-point favorites on NBA TV at 6 PM (CT). The over/under is set at 220 points for the game.
Philadelphia has won 2 of 3 games since acquiring Jimmy Butler. It lost its first game to Orlando with Butler but has since defeated Utah and Charlotte. Butler has posted 19 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in his three starts with the Sixers. He ideally should settle in as the No. 2 scorer behind All-Star center Joel Embiid. Embiid is having another phenomenal season, averaging 34.9 minutes a game and having started in all 18 games, no longer having any restrictions on his minutes. The 7’2” Kansas product is averaging 27.7 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.56 blocks/steals per game.
Veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick seemingly continues to better with age, averaging 18.3 points per game while shooting 36.7 percent from three-point range on a team-high 8.2 attempts per game. Ben Simmons still lacks a jumper, but he is a premier playmaker and is averaging 7.7 assists to lead the Sixers, in addition to his 14.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
The biggest disappointment for Philly has simply been that Markelle Fultz is really struggling. In his second NBA season, he has made scarcely much progression and is shooting just 42 percent from the floor while averaging 8.6 points and 3.2 assists per game. The Sixers opted to hold onto Fultz when dealing for Jimmy Butler, praying that patience will eventually pay off with the No. 1 pick from the 2017 draft.
The Sixers have been getting some great play off the bench from Mike Muscala, whose shooting range is really opening things up. He is attempting 4.5 threes per game at a 33 percent clip, but as a stretch-5, he continues to keep the game plan intact since Embiid is a threat from three as well (32.9 percent on 4.4 attempts per game). The Sixers have the depth and high-end talent to be a true contender, but 11-7 is something of a disappointing start and the 76ers should only improve as Fultz rounds into shape and it incorporates Butler more into its game plans.
The Phoenix Suns are just 3-12 this season, possessing a bottom-third defense that allows 113.1 points per game while the Suns manage to score just 102.1 itself, ranking worst in the Association. The point differential is -11.0.
Phoenix has a few great top talents, but it cannot seem to find much rhythm or continuity on the defensive end. Devin Booker is averaging 22.7 points per game and 7.3 assists, but his efficiency has been questionable with a PER Of just 16.1 due to his 42.5 percent shooting and 33 percent three-point shooting. TJ Warren has rounded into one of the better undersized forwards in the league, but his tough defense has gone unnoticed on a team so poor in that respect. Warren also averages 17.6 points per game in just under 30 minutes a night.
The Suns have been quite pleased with No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton. Ayton looks seasoned and is a good rim protector. He is averaging 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.34 blocks/steals per game. The Suns ideally would like him to swat more shots, but his overall defense has been solid for a rookie. Outside of that top-3, the Suns start to fall off. Trevor Ariza is playing his role, but it is a role on a team that needs more than solid veterans in the starting line. Ariza averages 10.2 points per game.
The biggest hole is at point guard where Phoenix starts young journeyman Isaiah Canaan. And Josh Jackson has fallen out of the starting lineup, seeing just 17 minutes a game to average seven points per contest. The Suns have some nice pieces intact at the top of the roster but need depth, a point guard, and a defensive identity, where it currently has none save its sieve identity in giving up so many while scoring so few itself.