The 1-2 Sixers will play the second of a back-to-back and their fourth of a five game road trip tonight in Oakland against the Warriors. The Warriors will be without half of their dynamic backcourt duo as Monta Ellis will be out due to family matter. Stephen Curry is expected to return after missing the Warriors' last outing with an ankle injury. Second year guard, Ish Smith, is expected to make his second consecutive start in place of Monta Ellis.
The Warriors are 2-1 on the season with all three games at home thus far. Their two wins have been over relatively impressive opponents in the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks. Even without Ellis the Sixers may have a tough time in Golden State tonight, simply because it's a back-to-back and the Warriors have one of the finest home court advantages in the NBA.
Where the Sixers hold an advantage – as they will against most opponents this season – is the comparison between the two teams' benches. The first three off the Warriors bench are Brandon Rush, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh. The threesome of Louis Williams, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner should be able to exploit the Warriors iffy bench.
The Warriors – who ranked 26th in the league in defensive efficiency last season – rank eighth in defense through three games this season. The improvement can be attributed to new head coach Mark Jackson, who's preached defense since his hiring. The Warriors are also a top 10 rebounding team, which could pose a problem for the Sixers.
The spread on the game is Sixers -1.5. For the third consecutive game I'm going to take the Sixers to cover. My picks are 1-2 ATS this season. I think it'll be a close game, but I predict the Sixers find a way to win to ring in the New Year, despite it being the back end of a back-to-back on the road.