January 1, 2018 / 5:42 AM / a year ago

Preview: 76ers at Suns

Devin Booker has picked up right where he left off in two games since returning from a left adductor strain, but he was at his best right before his three-week absence when he had his way with the Philadelphia 76ers. The high-scoring third-year guard attempts to guide his team to their first three-game winning streak of the season Sunday when they host the 76ers.

Phoenix is 5-2 over its last seven contests following Friday’s 111-101 triumph at the Sacramento Kings and Booker is averaging 29 points in two games since he came back in a Dec. 26 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. He erupted for a season-high 46 in the game before getting hurt in Philadelphia on Dec. 4, torching the 76ers for 32 points in the second half alone to lead the Suns to a 115-101 win - their largest margin of victory this season. Despite resting Joel Embiid in the first half of a back-to-back Saturday, Philadelphia put a halt to its struggles this month with a 107-102 road triumph against the Denver Nuggets - improving to 4-10 in December. Dario Saric led six 76ers in double figures with 20 points and added nine rebounds to go along with six assists.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN Philadelphia, FSN Arizona (Phoenix)

ABOUT THE SIXERS (16-19): Embiid (back) flew directly from Portland to Phoenix and is expected to play his normal allotment of minutes Sunday after the former No. 3 overall pick buried a career-high six 3-pointers and tallied 29 points in Thursday’s loss to the Trail Blazers. Despite being listed as doubtful for Saturday’s contest with finger and knee injuries, Robert Covington posted his second double-double of the month and his third of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds - recording three fewer points and two more boards than he did in the previous three games combined. Saric produced his 15th consecutive game with at least 10 points Saturday and is averaging 17.1 points, 8.3 boards and 3.9 assists over that span.

ABOUT THE SUNS (14-23): Phoenix improved to 8-0 this season when T.J. Warren (19.2 points, 5.7 rebounds) scores at least 25 points after he poured in 26 points and grabbed 10 boards against the Kings, giving him his fifth double-double of the season while the fourth-year pro is averaging 23.2 points and 6.8 rebounds over his last five games. Although he has cooled off over his last two outings, Isaiah Canaan is still averaging 11.4 points, 5.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 24.3 minutes off the bench in his first seven games with the team. Tyson Chandler (9.5) Alex Len (9.0) and Greg Monroe (8.3) are each averaging at least eight rebounds and only one other time in the last 40 years (2007-08) has Phoenix accomplished that feat over a full season.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. During the Suns’ 5-2 stretch, their bench is averaging 45.7 points and 12 assists while shooting 91.9 percent from the foul line.

2. Despite missing nine games, Embiid is one of 10 players in the NBA with at least 50 blocked shots.

3. Among players with 10 or fewer total 3-point makes in 2017-18, Warren’s 19.2 point-per-game average is the highest in the NBA.

PREDICTION: 76ers 105, Suns 102

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