PHOENIX - The 76ers (7-21) begin their annual holiday, west coast road trip, Friday night against the Phoenix Suns (8-21). The road trip has four games, with Sacramento, Utah and Denver being the last three stops. The Sixers have won the past three meetings with the Suns.
Here's a look at some keys to the Phoenix game:
Scoring: The Sixers aren't very good at it, averaging just 98.1 per game, 26th in the NBA. But Phoenix has allowed each of its last 12 opponents to score 100 or more and is next to last in the league by allowing 113.5 per contest. When the teams met a little over a month ago, a 120-105 Sixers win, the Sixers shot 52 percent from the floor, including 17-of-35 from the three point line. They also dealt 33 assists on their 45 made field goals, got 52 points in the paint and 61 points from their bench.
Big man soap opera: When Sixers coach Brett Brown made the choice to start Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together, this was one of the games where he thought the matchup would work well because the Suns are also trying to figure out starters and rotations. This should be a favorable offensive night for the Embiid/Okafor tandem at the offensive end. Suns rookie forward Marquese Chriss has struggled lately, but the Suns are also rebuilding and are committed to giving Chriss playing time. That bode well for Embiid and Okafor.
Early play of the Sixers: On a road trip like this, you like to begin it on a positive note. It might seem silly, but good play early on a road trip can go a long way to a successful one, and the Sixers have opportunities to win during this stretch. If they can jump out to a good start tonight, turn that into a win, it could go a long way towards a beneficial trip. Plus, getting an early jump on a team that has lost four consecutive games might bury the Suns quickly.