The Sixers are back in action tonight to play the Golden State Warriors in the middle of Steph Curry’s red-hot off offensive tear.
Now riding a four-game win streak, the Sixers will come into tonight ready for a matchup with the Golden State Warriors. A Brooklyn loss to the Miami Heat yesterday pushed the Sixers lead in the East to 1.5 games with 16 games left to play. With the Sixers being in the middle of a tough stretch of games, the Warriors have the potential to be overlooked and even potentially fall into the “trap game” category.
The Warriors have a record of 28-29 on the season and currently sit at ninth place in the Western Conference. They are certainly a less talented squad than the Warriors teams of past seasons, but still are a team well capable of getting hot and picking up a win. The Sixers must not let the previous victories over the Nets and Clippers or upcoming matchups with the Bucks and Suns distract them from tonight’s matchup.
The Sixers come into this matchup with two days of rest as they had the weekend off from games. This will be just the 7th game this season coming off two days rest and the team has played just 9 of their 56 games with two or more days of rest. While it is a small sample size, the Sixers actually average three fewer points per game and have poorer shooting percentages in these matchups.
The Warriors and Sixers will be facing off for the second time this season with Philly taking care of business in a 108-98 victory on March 23rd. This is a tough matchup to judge as the Sixers were without Joel Embiid and the Warriors were without Steph Curry. The 25-point performance from Tobias Harris was enough to guide the Sixers to a victory but they will be facing a much different Warriors team in tonight’s matchup.
The biggest news for the Sixers is that George Hill has been upgraded to questionable. Hill has played in just 14 games this season due to his thumb injury and has yet to make his Sixers debut. There has been no real update from the Sixers other than changing his status to questionable, so this will be a storyline to watch as the day progresses.
Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, and Dwight Howard have each been battling their nagging injuries and all seem like legitimate toss-ups for tonight’s game. Doc Rivers has made the decision with Tobias after warm-ups over the past few games so expect a similar plan tonight. Joel Embiid is not listed on the injury report.
The Warriors have been an interesting team to watch all season as they seemingly are a team with the intentions of losing games and attaining a high draft pick, but simply have too much talent for this plan to work. Perhaps the biggest problem with this lies in Steph Curry, who has been on an absolute tear.
Curry is averaging 31 points, 5.9 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and is knocking down three’s at a 42.7% rate this season. He is coming off a 47 point performance against the Celtics on Saturday and also added 53 points against the Nuggets earlier in the week. In his past 5 games alone, Curry is averaging 42.6 points per game along with 5 assists and 6.2 rebounds. It is even more impressive considering he is shooting 54.3% from beyond the arc during this stretch on a ridiculous 16.2 three-point attempts per game.
The Warriors also count on Andrew Wiggins for 18.2 points per game, as he is their second-leading scorer. Kelly Oubre jr also accounts for 15.3 points per game and has improved from his slow start to the season. Draymond Green has mastered his role of jack-of-all-trades and averages 6.6 points, 8.6 assists, and 6.6 rebounds.
The Warriors have a fairly extensive injury report heading into this one. Klay Thompson (Achilles), James Wiseman (Meniscus), Juan Anderson-Toscano (Concussion), and Eric Paschall (Hip Flexor) all remain out for tonight’s matchup. Steph Curry is questionable with left ankle soreness but appears likely to play. Kelly Oubre jr also is listed as questionable with left wrist soreness.
For the Sixers, Ben Simmons is a late addition to the injury report, Simmons is listed as questionable with a non-COVID related illness. He joins four other players in Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, Dwight Howard, and George Hill on the report.
Depending on how many players are actually absent, we should expect to see a big jump in minutes for players like Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey. It could also open up another big opening for Furkan Korkmaz, who has been making the most of his opportunities as of late.
Assuming that Curry plays, the number one priority must be to slow him down. If he gets hot early it will be a long night for the Sixers as he can take over a game all by himself. This could lead to a healthy does of Matisse Thybulle and expect several different Sixers players to take a chance guarding Curry. Doc Rivers has preached the importance of giving talented offensive players different looks and tonight is likely to be a clear example of this.
The loss of James Wiseman leaves the Warriors extremely weak on the interior, so expect Joel Embiid to have his way early and often in this matchup. Especially if Tobias Harris is unable to play, this matchup seems to be one that will lean heavily on the Sixers MVP.
This is a game that is extremely winnable if the game is taken seriously, but the Sixers must ensure they come in ready to play. The Vegas lines indicate that the Sixers are 9 point favorites in this matchup and the game will tip-off at 7:30 on ESPN.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire