Just a few years ago, there was no hype for the 76ers visiting Oracle, possibly even negative hype. But Saturday evening, a new, improved and exciting team from Philadelphia bounced into Oracle with buzz aplenty.
The young upstarts facing off the with veteran champs. But by the end, there was no buzz, just a 135-114 decisive victory for the Warriors. It is, after all, Veteran’s Day.
These blowout wins have reached unforeseen territory, even for a team as dominant as these Warriors have been the last three years. This is the sixth straight game Golden State has won by 17-plus points, which is the longest such streak in franchise history.
But it wasn’t a rout from the tip. The Sixers were able to take the Warriors out of their normal flow early with the way they guarded screens and defended.
Steve Kerr said he doesn’t want Golden State to be strictly a second half team:
“I’d like to be a first half team too. But it does seem like teams come after us early, everybody wants to knock us down, so they come out with a ton of energy and overplay things….We want to put it together obviously for four quarters but right now it seems like we are just treading water for a while and get it going in the second half.”
Manning the middle, Joel Embiid single-handedly made the Dubs wary of attempting anything inside. Every pick-and-roll featuring Embiid involved him sagging deep cutting off any passing lanes, but also giving up open jumpers.
Draymond Green said it was fun to go against Embiid, who, like Green, is a fan of some good-natured trash talk:
“He’s one of the guys who I watch play and one of my favorite things is when he get a foul, and he did it tonight, he got the first foul on Zaza and he’s like, ‘he gonna foul out!’ That’s how I grew up playing the game, and he is all of that. I enjoy it. He said a little bit tonight, we talked after the game and I expect a little more words when they’re at home next week, it’s going to be fun though.”
Once the Warriors adjusted to it, there were fewer forced passes to Zaza Pachulia inside and more off-the-dribble jumpers from Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. It doesn’t take advanced stats to know which has a better probable outcome.
Durant feasted Saturday to the tune of 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and Curry shook off an early knee to his thigh to go for 22 himself.
Curry wasn’t worried about his injured leg after the game:
“KD passed off that contusion to me. Same exact kind of situation, tried to come off a screen and got kneed in the thigh. Obviously able to keep playing, I’m sure it’s going to hurt tomorrow but hopefully I’ll be alright.”
Klay Thompson wasn’t to be left out either, as he joined the trio with 23 of his own. All of them played less than 31 minutes.
Embiid was lively on defense, though the Warriors rotation of centers slowed him to a snail’s pace on the offensive end. He would finish with just 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting and seven turnovers while being doubled and attacked on every catch.
Kevon Looney matched up with him for a good chunk of the game and more than held his own. Looney totaled three blocks in 12 impactful minutes and now has now broken double-digit minutes in each of his last four games.
Kerr’s been Looney’s biggest fan this season:
“He hasn’t surprised me with his play, because we knew he knew how to play and he could play. What’s surprised me is the fact that he came in 20 pounds lighter and healthy. It’s the first time he’s been healthy and that was the biggest question mark for Loon. I’m just so happy for him because he’s earned this.”
The Warriors rode him in the third quarter, along with the four starters to balloon a one-point halftime lead to 15 and didn’t look back.
Same story, different chapter.
The four-game homestand concludes Monday when the Warriors will be visited by the surprising Orlando Magic. The Magic currently sit in third place in the East and fourth in the league in points per game.
Stephen Curry finished the game with nine assists, which gives him 4,004 for his career. He’s only the second Warrior ever to reach the 4k assist mark joining Guy Rodgers, who holds the franchise record with 4,855. Curry also joined Rodgers in another category, tying him for games played in a Warriors uniform with 587, good for 10th all-time. … Kevin Durant blocked two more shots Saturday and continues his great all-around season, as he and Anthony Davis are the only two players in the league to average 24-or-more points and two-or-more blocks per game.