The Suns are in town to boost every Sixer's stats

USA Today Images

The Suns are in town to boost every Sixer's stats

The Eagles had their most stressful game of the season last night.

The Sixers have what could be their least stressful game of the season tonight.

In town are the 8-16 Phoenix Suns, who currently have the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference, ahead of the Mavs, Kings and Grizzlies. (Five of those eight wins are against the worst teams in the NBA — Bulls, Bulls, Kings, Lakers, Nets.)

The Suns, who were the first team this season to fire their head coach, have allowed a mind-boggling 115.8 points per game. That's 2.5 points more per game than they allowed even last season when they also ranked last in the NBA.

No NBA team since the 1990-91 Nuggets have allowed this many points per game.

This is what happens you don't have an NBA-caliber starting point guard and you (appear to) strike out with a couple high lottery picks like Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, who on some nights don't even have the instincts to stay on the court.

All you need to know about Phoenix's defensive mentality and how much this tanking team cares about stopping the opponent can be found in this 15-second clip:

Offensively, the Suns' best player (and really their only threat) is Devin Booker, who's averaging 23.6 points on 45 percent shooting with 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists. In late-and-close situations, Booker also becomes the Suns' primary ballhandler because they have so few solid options.

Defensively, look for the Suns to throw a lot of Tyson Chandler and Greg Monroe at Joel Embiid. Chandler, who moves in and out of the Suns' rotation, is no longer an elite rim protector at 35, but he's still averaging just under 10 rebounds per game.

Monroe is still a capable post player but on most plays probably won't have the agility required to defend Embiid without fouling.

Centers, in particular, have had a lot of success against Phoenix this season. Brook Lopez, a middle-of-the-pack big man, has three double-doubles against them (19 and 11, 19 and 10, 15 and 10). His brother Robin, a lesser scorer, also put up 16 and 10 against the Suns. And then you have the dominant nights elite bigs like Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside have already had against the Suns.

Teams have also had plenty of success against Phoenix from distance. The Suns have the second-highest opponents' field goal percentage from 20 to 24 feet (42 percent, ahead of only the Cavs).

So, on top of Embiid being able to get his, JJ Redick and Robert Covington should also have plenty of open looks. It's a get-right game for everybody.

And, hey, if the Sixers build up enough of a lead, perhaps even Jahlil Okafor — inactive the last two games — makes an on-court cameo.

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

AP Images

NBA admits mistake that leaves Sixers scratching their heads

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers were right.

The Sixers argued they should have set up at halfcourt, not fullcourt, for a decisive final possession of double overtime in Friday’s game against the Thunder. After a closer look following their triple-overtime loss, the NBA ruled the Sixers were proved correct. 

“After review, it was determined that the 76ers called timeout with 00:01.2 remaining on the game clock, which was prior to Saric's (PHI) dribble. Therefore, they should have been given the opportunity to advance the ball into their own frontcourt for the inbound,” the NBA Officiating’s Last Two Minute Report noted.

The confusion occurred at the end of the second overtime. Dario Saric got a defensive rebound and the Sixers called a timeout before he dribbled the ball. Because of this, the Sixers should have been allowed to set up a final play in the halfcourt, which is exactly what they had practiced and called.

But the referees made a last-second change as the Sixers were setting up. The Sixers were told they had to inbound from fullcourt, which would have been the case if Saric had dribbled before the timeout. The Last Two Minute Report indicated he, in fact, did not. 

“Respect that they are that transparent, but complete disappointment that it can happen,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “You really scratch your head. It’s significant.”

Every play, every basket can make a difference for a team fighting to make the playoffs. The Sixers were confident they could have won the game with the halfcourt play. Instead, they dropped back down to .500 and currently 10 in the Eastern Conference.

“Those things you need to avoid to give yourself every chance to win,” Brown said. “We can point to many other things that were self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to do better. But when it’s that exposed and that prominent of an environment with 1.2 seconds left, it’s disappointing. But like I say, they’re transparent. I respect the fact they admitted it and we move on.”

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

Joel Embiid out Monday against Bulls; 2 other Sixers sidelined

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid does not play both games of a back-to-back, but whether he plays in either of the Sixers' next two matchups will have to be determined.

Embiid is not traveling with the Sixers to Chicago for Monday’s game against the suddenly-streaking Bulls, who have won five straight. The big man usually plays at home in these scenarios, and considering he played 49 minutes in Friday’s triple-overtime loss, the decision was expected.

Embiid’s availability for Tuesday at home against the Kings, though, has not been finalized at this point. This is not surprising either being two days ahead of the game. Embiid, who has been dealing with back tightness, did not participate in practice Sunday. The Sixers will evaluate, monitor, and go through treatment with Embiid before making their call.

“Unsure at this stage,” Brett Brown said Sunday. “I do know he’s categorically out tomorrow and we’re going to learn more about him being available when we come back [for] Sacramento, I’d expect in the next 24 hours.”

The Sixers do know they will be without another two players for some time.

Trevor Booker will miss at least the next two games after suffering spraining his left ankle Friday. The newly acquired reserve will be reevaluated in approximately five-to-seven days.

Even though Booker was traded to the Sixers less than two weeks ago, he already made an impact on the second unit. Brown has seen enough over the last four games to know what the team will be missing.

“His toughness,” Brown said. “He’s got a motor. He plays with such a spirit. He’s a man. He’s a pro. He’s been in the league for a while. He gets it. It’s everything that you miss. It’s really everything this team needs.”

Furkan Korkmaz likely will be sidelined even longer. The rookie suffered a Lisfranc injury on his left foot while playing for the Delaware 87ers on Dec. 15 and is out indefinitely. The Sixers recalled Korkmaz from the G League and he is going through evaluation and testing. There is no timetable set for Korkmaz at this point.  

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons described the injury as, “Lisfranc (midfoot) injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of the injury can vary from simple to complex, involving many joints and bones in the midfoot.”

Korkmaz has been going back and forth between the Sixers and their G League affiliate in Delaware to get playing opportunities as part of his development in his first NBA season.