Sixers Host Suns as Some Familiar Faces Return to Philly

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

The Philadelphia 76ers (11-7) are riding high as of late. Since acquiring Jimmy Butler in a three-team deal, they've won two of three and have emerged victorious in seven on their last 10 games. After the Sixers visited China in the preseason, they were met with a rough schedule of five back-to-back's and 10 road games in their first 18 games. As of Monday, they've played the most games in the league. Things will get a little more stable for the Sixers moving forward, playing nine of their next 12 at home with no back-to-back's until December 16-17. In addition to that, over the next 16 days, the Sixers will only play two teams that currently have winning records. 

Last time out, Philadelphia came out on the winning side dramatic buzzer-beating victory against the Hornets on the road. The game seemed to unfold as we have come to see a lot of Sixers game unfold, with the team coming out hot in the opening quarter only to let the opposition make their runs and get back into it. On Sunday, the Sixers overcame a 60-point effort from Charlotte's Kemba Walker to win on a shot that never goes the Sixers' way. Jimmy Butler blocked Kemba on one end of the floor and on the following possession, Butler hit a triple with .3 seconds to go. 

“In my head, as much as I wanted the shot to go in to win the game, I also wanted it to go in because I didn’t want Kemba to give me 70,” Butler said. “I just wanted it to stop at 60.”

Butler struggled from the field, going 4-for-11 from the floor, but in crunch time, he came up big when his new team needed him most. Joel Embiid also had a big fourth quarter and overtime, finishing with 33 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Ben Simmons fell an assist shy of a triple double (23P, 11R, 9A) while JJ Redick went 5-for-11 from beyond and had 23 points. 

On Monday, the Sixers will play host to the lowly Phoenix Suns (3-12) and the game will include the return of a few familiar faces from Sixers past in Mikal Bridges, Isaiah Canaan and Richaun Holmes. 

On draft night 2018, all seemed to fall into place for Mikal Bridges. He got drafted by his hometown team, the Sixers, and would play in the city where he helped Villanova win a championship. Unfortunately, Bridges' Sixers career lasted less than an hour as Brett Brown and the front office shipped the Malvern, PA, native to Phoenix in exchange for Zhaire Smith and a 2021 unprotected first-round pick. Bridges looked to be a perfect fit for a Sixers team in need of shooting, but instead, they opted to go with a player they were high on in addition to a first-round pick. Bridges has played well for Phoenix this season, shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc. Over the last five games though, he's shooting 29.4 percent from beyond and averaging 8.8 points per game.

Process soldier Isaiah Canaan returns to Philadelphia after suffering a gruesome leg injury at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. Canaan has handled the starting point guard duties for the Suns this season, averaging 9.3 pints on 43.9 percent shooting. 

Meanwhile, Richaun Holmes comes back to the Wells Fargo Center and will likely get an ovation upon coming onto the court. Despite his inconsistent play, Holmes always had energy when he entered the game and put together numerous highlight reel dunks during his time in Philadelphia. Holmes has gotten some more playing time with the Suns now that Tyson Chandler was waived. Over the last five games, the 6-foot-10 big man out of Bowling Green is averaging 4.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.2 minutes. 

Monday night will feature a match-up between Joel Embiid and rookie DeAndre Ayton. Around the draft, the media was comparing Ayton's game to Embiid's, but Embiid took to social media to say that he actually plays defense. During Sixers media day, Embiid told The Jump that Ayton is about to get his ass kicked. After talking his trash, Embiid did talk about Ayton's potential and thus far, the 20-year-old is definitely showing it. In 15 games, he's averaging 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds, shooting over 60 percent from the floor. 

The Sixers will need to keep an eye on Devin Booker. Last season, the Sixers hosted Phoenix after 22 games, posting a 13-9 record. Booker scored 46 points in a Suns victory that night and the Sixers ended up losing nine of their last 10 games. With the addition of Jimmy Butler, and a day of rest since their last game, this one should be comfortable win for Philadelphia.

Projected Lineups

Matchup Preview  |  November 19, 2018
Phoenix Suns
(3-12, 0-6 Away)
  Philadelphia 76ers
(11-7, 8-0 Home)
Projected Starters
Isaiah Canaan Point Guard Ben Simmons
Devin Booker Shooting Guard JJ Redick
Trevor Ariza Small Forward Jimmy Butler
T.J. Warren Power Forward Wilson Chandler
DeAndre Ayton Center Joel Embiid

Game Information

Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA

TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic, 97.3 ESPN


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