Saturday, December 28, 9:00PM (EST) at US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona
TV: Comcast SportsNet | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic FM
Updated: December 28, 2013
PHOENIX -- The Philadelphia 76ers have spent the days immediately following every Christmas since 1979 traversing across the west coast as part of an annual road swing that carries the team into the New Year.
It begins Saturday at 9pm (EST) against the 17-11 Phoenix Suns, whose hot start has given them control of the sixth seed in a tough Western Conference.
Scouting the Suns
Beating the Odds
Under the guiding hands of rookie General Manager Ryan McDonough and first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek, many expected the Suns to experience growing pains early on, as they worked to build an identity and acquire players to fit their new system. Instead, Phoenix has gotten off to a 17-11 start, winning eight of its last 10 games. Preseason odds makers had projected the Suns to win between 17 and 21 games. Instead, they sit just one and a half games out of the Pacific Division lead with a third of the season in the books.
After ranking 26th in three-pointers made last season (5.9 per game on 33.0%), the Suns now boast the second-best three-point offense in the league, averaging 9.6 per game on 38.4% shooting. Leading the charge are veterans Gerald Green (2.5 3PM/g; 38.5 3P%) and Channing Frye (1.9 3PM/g; 41.2 3P%). Philadelphia native Marcus Morris is shooting 43.8% from deep on the year for Phoenix, and P.J. Tucker is hitting 44.9% of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A Unique Duo
The Suns are the only team in the league with two players who average over 5.5 assists per game. Starters Goran Dragic (5.8 APG) and Eric Bledsoe (6.0 APG) share point guard duties for Phoenix, with head coach Jeff Hornacek leaving at least one of the two on the floor at nearly all times – going into Friday's 115-86 loss to Golden State, in which the two sat for the majority of the second half, the Suns had played with both Dragic and Bledsoe off the floor at the same time for just six of 480 total minutes (10 games).
When the Sixers take the floor Saturday, it will be their first game in seven days, which is the longest span between contests Philadelphia will enjoy this season. That includes February’s All-Star Break, which will last six days.
The Suns, on the other hand, will be on the tail end of a back-to-back. They lost their Friday road meeting with the Golden State Warriors 115-86.
Hawes’ Hot Hand
Among the 57 NBA players this season with at least 100 three-point attempts, Spencer Hawes currently ranks sixth in efficiency from long range (43.3 3P%). He and Channing Frye (42.1 3P%) are the only centers in the league shooting over 40.0% from beyond the arc.
In league history, no seven-footer has ever shot better than 42.1% from three-point range through an entire season (min. 100 attempts) – Dirk Nowitzki converted 42.1% of his 121 three-point attempts during the 2009-10 season.
Tale of the Tape
|PPG||Evan Turner – 19.3||Eric Bledsoe – 18.4|
|RPG||Spencer Hawes – 9.0||Miles Plumlee – 9.1|
|APG||Michael Carter-Williams – 7.8||Eric Bledsoe – 6.0|
|SPG||Michael Carter-Williams – 3.0||Eric Bledsoe – 1.5|
|BPG||Spencer Hawes – 1.5||Miles Plumlee – 1.8|
Saturday: Coach Brown