The Golden State Warriors prevailed over the Philadelphia 76ers in the first leg of this road back-to-back. The game proved more physically and mentally taxing on the Warriors than expected, even as the Sixers were without one of the premier rising talents in the NBA in Joel Embiid. Despite the absence of Embiid, and moving versatile defender Nerlens Noel at the trade deadline, the Sixers played the Warriors close through the first half. The Sixers made six more threes than the Warriors in the first half, holding the Dubs to just one of 16 shooting.
While the shots weren’t falling for the Dubs, the defensive intensity, specifically provided by the “defensive unit”, forced 22 Philadelphia turnovers, holding Philly to just three three-point makes in the second half. The common third-quarter trend continued this game, with the Warriors scoring 34 and limiting the Sixers to 24 in the third frame.
The “defensive unit,” composed of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and David West, utilized their combination of length and toughness inside to clamp down on the Sixers. Green lead all Warriors with a plus/minus of +22, followed by Iguodala at +19.
Stephen Curry didn’t look in his grove all night despite the historical performances he has given in previous years on the same date. His 54 point game in Madison Square Garden in a loss to the New York Knicks and his 46 points and 30 plus foot game winner in Oklahoma city both occurred on February 27th.
He was unable to recreate that magic tonight, missing all eleven of his three-point attempts and finishing the night making just seven of his 23 shots for 19 points. He was able to impact the game in other ways, playing active defense and looking for his teammates, finishing the night with two steals, six assists, and four rebounds.
Kevin Durant returned to the starting lineup after missing the last game against the Brooklyn Nets and showed no signs of lingering injury issues. He scored 10 of his 27 points at the line, while defending the rim on the other end with two blocks.
Draymond Green had a special game as well, playing his trademark defense while racking up 11 assists. Klay Thompson had a quiet 21 points, while Zaza Pachulia went perfect from the field for 16 points. Pachulia was the recipient of two fantastic passes from Green and Thompson, including what is likely his first alley-oop of the season. On the whole, the Warriors’ passing was crisp and they finished with 31 assists on the night.