The Phoenix Suns have touched down in Philadelphia as part of a three game road trip that will take in games vs the 76ers, Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. Mere hours before the tilt against the 76ers, Duane Rankin revealed that Devin Booker would be out of that game.
The ankle injury that had meant he could only play in two out of five contests so far causing Booker too much discomfort off the back of the second game against the San Antonio Spurs and subsequent flight to Philadelphia.
Losing Booker for part of this road trip is a blow, and at 2-3 the Suns have to start stringing some wins together soon.
There is certainly no need to panic – but back-to-back losses against the rebuilding Spurs was most certainly not the game plan heading into the season. Taking care of business against these supposed lesser teams is something the organization absolutely has to do to ensure they have home court advantage in even the first round of the playoffs this season.
Leaving the comforts of home gives the group a chance to come together, and for Kevin Durant to continue his excellent start to the season. As he has already shown, as long as the Suns have him, they have a chance in every game. Here are three goals for the team before they head back to The Valley.
3. Win two games
The expectation shouldn’t even be on the Suns to rip through this trip. The 76ers might have recently lost James Harden – and the Suns will be forever grateful they didn’t get involved in that deal – but that team still boasts Joel Embiid. The current MVP of the league and a player who may be happier now that Harden is gone.
Tyrese Maxey may push for an All-Star selection this season, while Tobias Harris is in a contract year. His role with the 76ers has sometimes felt muddled, but make no mistake, he is capable of scoring 20 points in any game.
With both Booker and Bradley Beal out for at least this first game, the Suns need to focus on beating the Pistons and Bulls in games two and three. There’s no reason they can’t do this, with the Bulls in particular a team who the Suns can match up well with. They play with the second slowest pace in the league currently, at 97.3.
They also have players in DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic who the Suns can get the best of on both ends of the court. The Pistons will be trickier, as the Spurs exposed their struggles with a young team who can zip up and down the court. Despite this, the Suns should have nothing to fear, and two wins should be the goal here.