This was not a game for deep analysis, especially with so many 76ers out of the lineup. The Sixers were looking to heal up and the Phoneix Suns were attempting to keep their once-improbable playoff push alive.
Here are some observations from the game.
One of the reasons to watch the game was the matchup of Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle on Devin Booker, who averaged 30.3 points in the first six seeding games. Thybulle can frequently be beaten off the dribble by quicker guards, but some of his best defense comes before his opponent gets the ball. Thybulle made Booker work hard to get the ball. So did Glenn Robinson III when he guarded Booker.
Once Booker got the ball, he had a quick enough first step to get by either any of the Sixers’ defenders.
Yet even when beaten, Tybulle doesn’t give up on a play.
This play is an example, as Booker easily got to the hoop, but Thybulle came back to block the shot of center Deandre Ayton.
Booker hurt the Sixers by drawing fouls. Thybulle had three fouls by halftime and five within the first three minutes of the third quarter.
When Thybulle returned in the fourth quarter, he played a little off of Booker, who quickly hit a three from the top of the key. Later, though, Thybulle forced him into a missed step-back three.
Booker didn’t dominate the Sixers from the field, but a 92 percent free-throw shooter entering the game, he got to the foul line at will.
Even though Thybulle had his ups and downs, Monday’s game was a good test for him. The same can be said about Robinson. Both Thybulle and Robinson figure to draw the assignment of high scoring wings in the postseason.
Booker plays so well under control, but he has deceptive quickness. He has great vision, picks his spots well when to attack the basket, and then has the ability to accelerate.
Watch his late explosion on this basket:
The Sixers hope that they won’t need more than Joel Embiid and Al Horford playing center in the postseason, but if they do, they could go with Scott in a small lineup. Or they could use defensive-minded Norvel Pelle or veteran Kyle O’Quinn. Pelle is one-dimensional, while O’Quinn offers more variety, especially with his passing ability off the high post.
Depending on the situation, O’Quinn might be a better third option at center.
If everybody (excluding Ben Simmons) is healthy for the playoffs, it still may be difficult for Mike Scott to earn many minutes, but the last two games he has given the Sixers a major spark off the bench. Scott is a streak shooter, but when he is hitting the three, he has value. He also brings great toughness and he played in a so-called meaningless game against the Suns like somebody who is making a pitch for some meaningful postseason minutes.
For the third straight game, Alec Burks couldn’t be contained on offense. He is great shooting off the screen.