Following Thursday night’s shellacking at the hands of the Utah Jazz, the Philadelphia 76ers have another tough test tonight at home as they welcome the Golden State Warriors. Golden State sports an NBA-best 21-4 record as of this writing, easily leading the league in defensive rating at 99.5 (Phoenix is second at 104.1). But if you’re thinking the Warriors are all about shooting and offense, you’re right, they’re good at that too. They sit fourth in offensive rating at 112.4.
Of course, the biggest reason for the Warriors’ success is Steph Curry, who has fully regained his MVP form, averaging 27.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, while shooting 41.3 percent from 3. As a fun side plot tonight, Curry needs 10 three-pointers to pass Ray Allen and become the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made. I would say it’s unlikely that Steph makes 10 threes tonight, but have you seen the Sixers play defense lately? It could happen.
Curry isn’t a one-man band, however. Draymond Green is back to anchoring the team’s defense at an elite level and leading the team at 7.6 assists per game. Andrew Wiggins has gone from the “bust” label with an albatross contract, to being an overpaid, but very helpful player, shooting a career-best 41.5 percent from 3. Jordan Poole has seized his opportunity to play 30 minutes per night, averaging 18.0 points and 3.5 assists. Oh, and Klay Thompson is scrimmaging with Santa Cruz. Things are looking good in the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, the Sixers seem stuck in the middle with the current roster. They need more athleticism on the wing and more creation ability on the perimeter, especially late in games. Joel Embiid is back to playing like a superstar, but we’ve seen this story before with how heavy workloads catch up with him by the end of games and how his teammates struggle to get him the ball in good positions when the defense is locked in. Embiid also suffered a right abdominal injury and briefly left the game against Utah. We haven’t heard anything more about that since, so no news is good news, I suppose.
Tyrese Maxey’s play as a starter would likely be considered the most positive development of the Sixers’ season thus far, but he has struggled to find his footing since Embiid returned from his COVID absence. Should Doc Rivers led him run more minutes with the second unit where he’d be able to create with the ball in his hands much more often? It’s something to consider. The other beneficial occurrence has been Seth Curry carrying over his aggressive play from last postseason. Seth is averaging a career-high 16.3 points per game, and no one even bats an eye when he puts up 18-to-20 as a matter of course.
As for additional help for the big man, it might be on the way!
ESPN reporting with @ZachLowe_NBA: Philadelphia's trade conversations on Ben Simmons gathering momentum in recent days. More teams engaged, more two and three-way deal structure talks ongoing as 76ers try to land a Top 25 player for Simmons.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 10, 2021
While that report is certainly encouraging, it won’t help the Sixers tonight. Go forth Seth, and prove you’re the best Curry!