The injury-riddled Golden State Warriors are one of the eight teams languishing below the Sixers in league-wide standings. In fact, their 16-39 mark makes them the proud owners of the league's third-worst record. The teams met in Philly earlier in the season, and the Sixer picked them apart on their way to a blowout victory. Preview and game thread after the jump.
Golden State currently has seven guys listed on their injury report, and all seven will most likely miss tonight's game. Don Nelson has been forced to trim his rotation to eight, and start a 6'8" power forward from Creighton to give him some semblance of size in the lineup.
While GSW has played some putrid basketball this season, they have been hot recently, winners in 3 of their past 5 games. The rotations, trimmed out of necessity, may have something to do with the uptick in play.
Even with their horrible record, GSW is not a team the Sixers can afford to take lightly. Their guard duo of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are nothing short of explosive. Curry is making a strong push in the ROY race. Ellis is using up almost 30% of his team's possessions, and kind of killing them with his 28 shots for 32 points performances.
If you take a look at the Warriors' starting lineup, you'll see some immediate areas of concern for the Sixers. Ellis is a premiere penetrator, Curry and Morrow are deadly from distance and Andris Biedrins is an excellent offensive rebounder. I'm assuming we'll see Jrue on Ellis to start the game, with Iguodala taking a turn as well. I really don't want to see Lou or Willie attempting to guard him, but I'm sure we will.
Ellis is kind of in love with his shot, and if you deny him penetration he will absolutely take the long two. He's averaging 7.2 shots/game from 16-23 feet, and converting at only 38%. Priority number one on the defensive end is staying in front of Ellis and keeping him out of the lane.
Priority number two is staying at home on both Curry and Morrow. Curry is a much more completely player, I believe, so you're going to want your second-best defender on him. Given the choice, I'd probably play Iguodala on Monta, Jrue on Curry and Green/Lou on Morrow, who probably won't hurt you too much on anything other than threes.
Priority number three on defense is securing the defensive glass. Get a body on Biedrins, watch out for Curry sneaking in for an offensive rebound as well. They're small, which means they're going to be quick. GSW plays at an insanely high pace, you have to limit them to one attempt per possession whenever possible, and hope their mediocre offensive execution coupled with their disdain for defense of any kind will do them in.
There is a key to beating a team who plays like Golden State, you can't fall into the trap of their extreme pace. By that I mean GSW doesn't value the quality of possessions, only the quantity. They look for quick shots, not good shots. They'd rather not have to defend late in the shot clock. in fact, they want you to get caught up in the flow of the game and shoot as early as possible. They win when teams attempt to match them shot for shot at an increased pace instead of running their offense and taking the extra 5 or 10 seconds to find what will undoubtedly be a better shot.
Early in the game tonight, don't pay attention to the score, pay attention to what shots the Sixers are taking and when they're taking them in the half court. If we see a lot of 20-foot jumpers with 17 or more seconds left on the shot clock, we could be in trouble.
Key to The Game: Contesting Curry, Morrow and CJ Watson at the three-point line.
If _____________ the Sixers will win: Let's go with more rebounds for Dalembert than Biedrins.
This is your game thread, the game will tip off at 10:30 and I'll be right here throughout. If you've got coffee, I suggest you drink it. It's going to be a late night.