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Warriors vs. Sixers preview: Getting to know Philadelphia

The Warriors head into Philly tonight looking to rebound from a sloppy victory over the Knicks. Let's take a second to get to know the challengers.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors (40-9) @ Philadelphia 76ers (12-40)

Wells Fargo Center - Philadelphia, PN

4:30 p.m. PST

Radio: KNBR 680 AM | TV: CSN Bay Area

Buddy Blog: Liberty Ballers

The Golden State Warriors continue their road trip through the East tonight in Philadelphia, getting hosted by a Philadelphia 76ers team that many fans probably don't have much familiarity with. Any why would they? The play in the Eastern Conference, meaning Golden State only plays them twice in a season.

Their record has been abysmal, meaning they have very little effect on the playoff race. Philly all but wrote off their season before it started. They have been forgotten while entering into rebuilding purgatory, so why would we know about them at all?

Coach Brett Brown has been tasked with assembling what he can out of a bargain-basement roster. His collection consists of ex-top picks in bad draft years (Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel), D-League standouts (Robert Covington), developmental surprises (K.J. McDaniels, Tony Wroten) and journeymen (Luc Mbah a Moute). Brown has done his best to make the best of a bad situation, but still ended up with the league's worse record for most of the year. The bright side? He actually has this team playing better as of late, winning four of their last seven, including wins over Charlotte and Detroit.

Why has this team been so bad? Lack of effort. They lost their first seventeen games of the season, missing Carter-Williams, watching Noel go through growing pains, and not playing a lick of defense. They still rank last in the league in many statistical categories, including points per game and offensive rating. They play at a fast pace (typical of a young team with little discipline), and actually rate better on defense than should be typical for the # of points they give up. Their goal? Outscore you and outshoot you, hoping young hustle and energy will beat you in the end.

Sadly for the 76ers, the Warriors play at the best pace in the league, and still find ways to play defense. Golden State is the ultimate matchup problem for Philiy on paper - #1 Defense in the league means Philly won't be able to easily score. The Warriors run the break better than you do, meaning Philly could be beat at their own game. Oh yea, and they have two of the best players in the league in the Splash Brothers coming off a relatively bad game looking to rebound. Let's take a quick look at the season matchup so far:

Match Up

Result

Warriors vs. Philly - New Years Blowout

Warriors 126 - 76ers 86
This game was over by halftime. Philly was held to 34 points in the first half, and the starters all played less than 30 minutes on the night. Golden State shot a gaudy 56% from the field on easy layups and wide-open shots. Mo Speights lead the way with 23 points, followed by six others in double figures.

The 76ers continue their march into the basement of the league, duking it out with the Knicks for the worse record in the NBA. At 12-40, they have already surpassed their expected season win total, holding a two game "lead" over New York for the #1 draft spot next year. They hold a few interesting pieces - Carter-Williams periodically shows signs of a floor game, Noel is slowly developing an offensive game to go along with his natural elite defense. They have a few mismatched parts showing effort on the floor, either looking to earn a spot in the rebuild or showcasing their talents to get a contract from a contender.

Yet the franchise is not a complete mess - if Joel Embiid can control attitude and weight problems, he should be ready for training camp next season and in a place to show off why he went #1 in the draft. Dario Saric also sits over in Europe, developing his long-term game and giving Philly fans hope that these dark days end with better ones.

The Warriors will probably win tonight's game by a safe margin. They cannot bring the same disinterested effort they brought to the Knicks game on Saturday night, and knowing the veteran presence from the club I don't picture that being an issue. They have rebounded well all year from sub-par nights with a better attitude, and should handle this team easily. Let's hope that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can get some additional rest tonight with the early blowout before their long week coming up. I would expect Steve Kerr to consider additional nights off from guys like Bogut and Iguodala. In the end, the 76ers aren't at the stage to hold up against this determined Golden State team, and rightfully so. The 76ers are already thinking about draft picks and their long-term franchise status while the Warriors are too busy thinking about the here and now.

Predictions

  • Draymond Green has one of his typical Swiss army knife nights, finally getting his shooting stroke back into place. He goes for 25.
  • The starters are done on the bench by the middle of the third - this won't need to be a 30-point blowout for Kerr to consider sitting them.
  • The 76ers put up some shots, but most of them miss. They have stayed in games with three-point shooting, but the Warriors are too good at defending. They shoot under 40% tonight.
  • A few early highlights are followed by a lot of Ezeli, Holiday and Shawn Livingston. Another game to not put into the highlight reel, but the Warriors should walk out with the 110-79 win.

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