Posted by: C. Smith
01/24/11 3:38 pm EST
This Monday edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent, the fun to watch and relatively hot Phoenix Suns.
After a solid win over the talented but road weary Utah Jazz on Saturday night, the Sixers take on another Western Conference foe that much like the Jazz, will provide plenty of match up problems for the home team. Obviously defending Steve Nash will present a number of challenges for the Sixers backcourt. Back in December Nash lit up the 7-6 for 23 & 15. Ageless swingman Grant Hill always seems to give this Sixers roster trouble and outside of the Detroit game the other night, Hill is playing arguably the best ball of his recent career (14.7 ppg. & 5 rpg.).
But it’s Marcin Gortat that we’re especially concerned about in tonight’s contest. As we all know the Sixers have significant trouble guarding bigs with talent, and the Suns’ Gortat certainly falls into that category. Additionally, Gortat seems to have found his niche in PHX and he has been rolling of late (see below for stats). Gortat tore up the Sixers during his time in Orlando and that was in a limited role behind “Superman”, so the thought of Gortat getting 30+ minutes against the defensively challenged Sixers frontline is very scary. If the Suns are wise enough to run Gortat and Robin Lopez at the same time for extended minutes, the Sixers will be in real trouble.
Despite all of the above challenges, we really like the Sixers chances of securing a win tonight. Even though the Suns defense is improving, it has not gotten good enough that they can stop the Sixers from scoring — at will. See the 123 points we hung on PHX back in December as evidence. If there’s one thing the Sixers can do, it’s get buckets. That’s especially true if Collins continues to give Louis Williams a long leash. So trading baskets with the high powered Suns should not be a problem with the Sixers.
There’s little chance Alvin Gentry will use our above idea and run Lopez and Gortat together for significant portions of the game, so that will help the Sixers bigs hold their own on defense. With the trio of Brand, Speights and Hawes playing “decently” on that end of the floor, the Sixers much higher ranked team defense (13th overall vs. Suns 29thplace ranking) will be too tough for the Suns. In short, the Sixers defense will come through with several stops along the way and bring home a W for the home team.
For a little more insight into the Suns team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Michael Schwartz of valleyofthesuns.com to answer two questions from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this PXX squad from an insider’s perspective.