After a perfect five-game road trip, the Warriors returned home to face off against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, the Philadelphia 76ers. The Warriors would be short-handed in this matchup as Klay Thompson missed the game due to illness. Though the Warriors were somewhat short-handed, they still jumped out to a seven-point lead and looked like they were going to continue their winning ways. But the visiting 76ers came charging back in the second half, outscoring the Warriors by 16 points over the game’s final two quarters to get the 113-104 win at Oracle, snapping the Warriors win streak at eleven games.
A dominant third quarter AGAINST the Warriors?!?!
As it has been with many Warriors games over the past 5+ seasons, Thursday night’s game was one that turned in the third quarter. Unfortunately, it turned against the Warriors in that frame.In the third quarter of Thursday night’s game, the 76ers outscored the Warriors 42-26, which gave them a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter that they wouldn’t relinquish.
In the third quarter, it became clear that the Warriors had no answer for Joel Embiid, especially when DeMarcus Cousins was on the bench. In that third quarter, Embiid scored 11 of his 26 points, also grabbing 6 of his 20 rebounds and handing out 4 of his 5 assists.
Cousins’ size made things somewhat more difficult for Embiid. But his rust (it is worth remembering that this was only his sixth game back after recovering from a serious injury) and the fact that Embiid is one of the best big men in the game made it tough for Cousins to really slow him down. Though Kevon Looney had a solid game against the 76ers, scoring 14 points (one game after scoring a career-high 15 points against the Pacers), he was no match for Embiid as well.
Looney looks like he's trying to tackle a redwood tree when boxing out Embiid.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 1, 2019
The 76ers dominated the glass against the Warriors, out-rebounding them 49 to 37 while also grabbing 16 offensive rebounds.
After the game, Cousins had some choice words about his performance against Embiid and why the Shirley Temple-drinking All-Star was able to get the better of him on Thursday night.
DeMarcus Cousins on Joel Embiid’s night: “I think we did a great job defending him. But, you know, he got a little extra help.” pic.twitter.com/UJceJLYqor— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 1, 2019
But it wasn’t just Embiid and Ben Simmons (who had 8 points and 2 assists) leading the way for the 76ers in that pivotal third quarter. 10 players for the 76ers scored in the third frame, their entire roster making contributions to give them the lead heading into the fourth. By contrast, only three Warriors who weren’t Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant scored in the third.
Curry tries to win it on his own
Though the Warriors came up short in this game, Curry turned in a stellar performance, putting the team on his back and doing everything he could to get his team a win.
Against the 76ers, Curry scored 41 points, going 10/18 from long distance, while also tallying 6 assists and 4 rebounds. It was Curry’s seventh game of the season scoring 40+ points, with four of those games coming in the month of January.
Curry was rolling from the beginning of the game, scoring 23 of those points in the first half while going 6/8 from three-point range in the game’s first two quarters. One of those three-point makes came on this shot midway through the second quarter.
Curry cooled off slightly in the second half, with just 18 points while shooting 4/10 from three-point range, which would be good for anyone else but only so-so for Curry. But Curry still did his best to steal the win for the Warriors, including knocking down this three-pointer on a frenetic possession with just under three minutes left in the game.
But Curry couldn’t do it on his own against this talented 76ers roster but he sure tried to, giving us a great individual game that came in an ultimately losing effort.
Three-point shooting, bench, let down the Warriors
Outside of Curry, the Warriors could not convert anything from long distance. The Warriors only made one non-Curry three-point shot, going from three-point range. The sole non-Curry three-pointer came courtesy of Durant, who finally knocked one down from three-point range with just under five minutes left to go in the game. Durant finished the game with 25 points but went 11/24 from the field and 1/8 from three-point range. It was a solid game from Durant but with Thompson out they needed a spectacular game from him and they just didn’t get that on Thursday night.
The defensive intensity of the 76ers played a large role in this inefficient performance from Durant. The length of players like Simmons, Mike Muscala, Jonah Bolden, and Jimmy Butler was important in the 76ers disrupting the Warriors’ offensive attack. It even allowed for Butler to end the game with a positive +/- while having a subpar game by his personal standards (7 points on 3/12 shooting).
It was also quite clear that the Warriors missed Thompson’s presence and that played a role in the team’s three-point shooting woes. Whether by making his own shots or through his presence opening things up for his teammates, the Warriors could have used Thompson out there against the 76ers. The Warriors got plenty from Curry and enough from Durant, they needed that third scorer (especially since their bench, save for Looney, didn’t contribute all that much in the way of scoring) to get this win.
It was a tough game for the Warriors to drop, even if they were short-handed. But there’s no time to rest as another big challenge awaits with the newly-healthy LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers making their way to Oracle for a Saturday night showdown.