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Preview: Cousins, Warriors return home to face Embiid’s 76ers

The champs are clicking, while Philadelphia is trying to figure out “The Process” on the fly.

NBA: All Star Game-Team LeBron at Team Stephen Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (36-14) vs Philadelphia 76ers (33-18)

Date: Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

Time: 7:30 pm PST (it’s early!)

TV: TNT

Radio: 95.7 The Game

Blog buddy: Liberty Ballers

The Golden State Warriors finally return home from that undefeated five game road trip and have quite the homecoming gift in store. The ornery bullies known as the Philadelphia 76ers are in town, and they would love nothing more than to stop the Warriors league leading 11 game win streak.

The 76ers are led by two young giants who are lifting the franchise from the cellar back into Eastern Conference title contention, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Basketball Reference lists the 6’10, 230 pound Simmons as a point guard, and he certainly has the otherworldly handles and passing vision of a true PG. He’s currently averaging 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists.

Unfortunately, the 22 year-old also has the jumpshot of a true center from the 1970’s.

Basketball Reference’s chart for Simmons’ shooting splits this season
Basketball Reference
Basketball Reference’s shot chart for Ben Simmons
Basketball Reference

One three pointer attempted the whole season? Sub-zero shooting percentages outside of the paint? Those numbers are only gonna work in today’s NBA if you’re the center.

Except they already have an elite center, the 7-foot monster Embiid. Even though he is certainly capable of splashing from outside the arc (Embiid’s shooting 31% from three-point range this season), the big fella’s far more dominant around the rim. He’s averaging 27.2 points and 13.3 rebounds a game; why would 76ers coach Brett Brown evict him out of the paint?

Zach Lowe had some thoughts on this for ESPN:

The young cornerstones do not complement each other, at least not as much as you’d like.

They feel the tension between a fast-break sprinter and a back-it-down bully. “That Ben is one of the three or four fastest players in the league -- and that the game can sometimes just run past Joel -- is both a blessing and a curse,” Brown says. “Joel needs the ball. This isn’t the 100-meter dash. Ben is getting better at recognizing that.”

I didn’t even mention their newly acquired slasher Jimmy Butler, a guy who is at his best when he’s getting downhill attacking the rim. Where does he fit in?

Lowe continued:

This is usually how you win championships: join three great players, and figure out who needs to sacrifice what, and when, to beat top teams. The Warriors spoiled us into thinking that process is clean and easy. They are an anomaly, blessed with three of the greatest shooters ever -- guys who remain useful and comfortable (to varying degrees) off the ball.

Speaking of the Warriors...

The Warriors have won 10 straight against Philadelphia. In their bid for 11 in a row on the Sixers, the rejuvenated DeMarcus Cousins will finally get a chance to test himself against an All-Star center in Embiid.

GETCHA POPCORN READY! WARRIORS! SIXERS! NEXT!

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