Preview: in a star-driven league, Warriors are rosy
Sixers? Not so rosy.
On paper, this is where the Golden State Warriors schedule was supposed to get tough. They rolled over the short-handed Brooklyn Nets, and now the looming matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers finds them again facing a team without some of their primary firepower. Of course, playing without Klay Thompson as they have been, there’s not much extra sympathy to spare out of Golden State.
But Philadelphia is having an identity crisis with Ben Simmons sitting out while demanding a trade - on top of missing their best player (Joel Embiid out with Covid health and safety protocols).
Will the 76ers be able to challenge a dominant Warriors squad - or is this going to be the next installment of “that wasn’t a real test?”
On the injury front, it looks like Iguodala will be out for at least one more game, but they’ve got Gary Payton II getting closer to a return and listed as “questionable.”
WHO: Golden State Warriors (15-2) vs Philadelphia 76ers (10-8)
WHEN: Wednesday November 24, 2021 // 7:00pm PDT
WATCH: ESPN, NBCSBA
Two of the best ever
Ever since I was a young kid first getting my hands on a video game roster, I’ve loved the concept of fixing the Warriors roster via trade. Andris Biedrins for a young DeMarcus Cousins was a favorite, but really, there were so many issues with those old Golden State teams that there was no shortage of options.
Now, I imagine that fans of other teams are frequently dipping their toes into the Warriors roster to fix their favorite team. Because while all the parts are humming along in harmony, nothing sings in Golden State without the primary drivers.
Like anyone who covers the Warriors, I’ve written some pretty deep dives into Curry and Green. But what really drove this treatment today was this excellent feature by Anthony Slater on Green’s renewal - and then something else on Curry I’ll get to in a moment.
The Warriors don’t just have the best defense in the NBA (holding teams to just one point per possession), Slater points out in his article that this is also the best defensive rating that the team has had since Steve Kerr took over as head coach. Green is at the center of the defense in a lot of ways. His emotional push and pull on people can be grating, but it’s also an extremely necessary (loud) part of the Warriors machine.
The personalities also seem to play off each other well. If everyone acted like Draymond, there’d probably be two weekly brawls. But they’ve added the right amount of temperature coolers.
“I do love the mix,” Kerr said. “You have internal leaders like Bjelica and Otto who have been around, understand everything and they can kind of quietly share thoughts on the bench as the game is going on. Then you have Draymond ripping into guys. Then you have Steph putting his arm around them. Andre’s making a cryptic comment. It’s great. It just feels like the hierarchy is in a good place.”
This interplay is like two brilliant musicians. If they’re good, it’s probably going to sound good when they play. But man oh man, when those two brilliant players are all the way on sync it’s something extra beautiful.
This is from the last game, but please press play on this one. Watch as Green’s man moves under the basket and away from the play - a classic feature of offenses trying to pull the big out of the way.
Curry recognizes what’s happening, and all it takes is an extended arm for him to tell Green that the switch is on. Green quickly spins back and immediately reads and reacts perfectly.
That block on Pascal Siakam ended up as a highlight, but it doesn’t happen without the spur of the moment interplay between Green and Curry. Just like so much else doesn’t happen without Curry and Green.
It’s also interesting to note that the synergistic relationship is on both ends of the court. It’s no surprise that the Green-to-Curry assist is the most frequent connection for the team this season; but take a gander at the inverse. Curry-to-Green is the 4th most frequent linkup - and more importantly, 13 of the 19 assists ended in a make at the rim. This is a two-way connection that is elite on both ends.
The Warriors are in good hands right now.
86 the 76ers?
Are the Sixers done?
Once one of the heralded next generation of contenders, the 76ers have fallen out of relevance. Even before Ben Simmons and President of Basketball Operations, Daryl Morey started the NBA’s least riveting slow motion train crash, they were getting bumped out of the playoffs.
This season hasn’t gotten any easier. With Simmons and the team at an impasse, the road back to the playoffs was already a steep hill. Unfortunately, the going hasn’t gotten any easier for a Sixers team that has won four of their last ten games.
The Sixers aren’t slouches, and even short-handed this won’t be an easy win. They got a top ten offensive- and net-rating, but the defense is soft (ranked 24th).
The scouting report will likely be focused on Tyrese Maxey, who is averaging 18.7 points and 4.6 assists per game, and doing it with style.
Will it be enough to get past the red hot Warriors?
This will be a fun game, but potentially a little bit of a trap, with Western Conference rivals(?), the Phoenix Suns looming.
Also, I predict that I’m going to buy a new motorcycle - so that’s a good day, no matter what!