A long break is the best Christmas gift for the Philadelphia 76ers. Their next game won’t be until Saturday against the Phoenix Suns. The highly unusual holiday break is something much-needed for a team that recently ended a seven-game losing streak.
Coach Brett Brown will have time to devise some new plays, and the players will have time to recover from injury. Hopefully, the break will rejuvenate a malfunctioning young team. Starting point guard Michael Carter-Williams will have time to relax his knees after coming back from a knee infection. He had an impressive return in the win against the Brooklyn Nets and also managed to get a double-double in the loss to the Milwaukee Bucks last night.
The rest of the team will need as much rest before going on a five-game west-coast road trip. Three out of the five teams are in playoff position with winning records. The Sixers’ next five opponents are the Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers. This may be the team’s toughest stretch of the season.
The Suns are 7-3 the past 10 games. The Suns also have a tough backcourt in leading scorers Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. The Sixers’ backcourt will have their hands full with stopping both players. The next game against the 13-14 Lakers will be tough even with a depleted roster and lack of point guards. The Lakers have done well so far without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for most of the season.
The last three games will be the hardest as the Nuggets are a well-rounded team, the Kings have made some upgrades with the acquisitions of Rudy Gay, Greivis Vasquez and Derrick Williams, and the Trail Blazers are the hottest team in the NBA. Portland lead the league in points and have the second-best record in the league at 23-5.
The break will be welcomed. The Sixers just need to take advantage of it.