The 76ers looked to finish off their west coast road trip with a win Sunday evening against the team with the NBA’s best record, the Phoenix Suns. The Sixers had their chances in this one, giving the Suns a run for their money and even had them on the ropes in the second quarter.
Philadelphia had a 15 point lead in the second quarter, but the Suns were able to rally back behind the play of Devin Booker. The Sixers tried to make a fourth-quarter push to get the Suns’ lead down to one, but the Suns eventually won 114-104. Take a look at three takeaways from the matchup:
Embiid Continues to Shine
Although it wasn’t enough to get the victory, Joel Embiid continued his dominance against the Suns. He had what seemed like a quiet 37 points and 15 rebounds. Embiid went bucket for bucket with Devin Booker in the first quarter and dominated DeAndre Ayton all evening.
Although there was a play in the second half when Embiid came down on Devin Booker’s foot and rolled his ankle, the Sixers’ star stayed in the game, but his performance wasn’t enough to will his team to victory. If the 76ers can finish strong, combined with a few more great performances like this one, he can wrap up the MVP award.
76ers’ Perimeter Defense
Devin Booker ended the night with 35 points and started the game with 22 in the first quarter. The 76ers need to have more consistent perimeter defense from game to game. Sometimes this team looks like one of the best defenses in the league.
In other matchups, they struggle with everything from guarding the pick and roll and simple closeouts on defense. The offense hasn’t been good enough for the guys not to play hard on the defensive end. Doc Rivers, Dan Burke, and the coaching staff need to switch some of the coverages to give teams different looks. The team can’t always count on Embiid to erase mistakes at the rim.
Pushing for the #1 Seed
The 76ers started the day as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and after the loss against the Suns and a Boston Celtics win, they fell to fourth place. The Sixers have a massive game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday in Philadelphia, which will determine the tiebreaker for the two squads.
After that, the schedule gets a little lighter, with the most difficult games remaining after Tuesday are against the Cavaliers and Raptors. The Sixers will more than likely push for the top seed because that would solidify Joel Embiid’s MVP campaign. If the Sixers have a tough week of games, they may start resting players to prepare for the playoffs.