Golden State temporarily halted their slide right out of the playoff picture with a recent three-game winning streak at home. They hit another chute immediately upon heading out east or a four-game trip. The Sixers can extend GSW's losing jag to four tonight, or tack another onto heir own, pushing it to eight.
Let's pretend, for a minute, that we want the Sixers to win this game. That's how I'll continue to approach things because I can't stomach going the other way. The Warriors record is dramatically better than it should be. They sport the 11th-best offense in the league, and the number 19 defense. That defensive number has been dropping like a rock, and they're far from a solid team on that end of the floor. To beat them tonight, three things need to happen. Jrue needs to win his matchup with Steph Curry. Curry scored 54 on the Knicks the other night (which probably says just as much about the Knicks perimeter defense as it does about Curry). He had a harder time last night against the Celts, needing 22 shots and 10 free throws to tally 25. The last time these teams met, Jrue had 21 (inefficient) points, 10 dimes and only 2 turnovers. Curry was held to 11 on 11 shots, and 6 assists to go along with 4 turnovers. Winning that matchup again is step one.
Steps two and three are both big men. The Sixers need to find a way to limit both David Lee and Carl Landry. The two PFs combined for 40 points, 23 boards and 18 free throw attempts. Limiting the easy opportunities and especially the offensive rebounds for those two will be crucial if the Sixers want to win.
The Warriors like to go small in the back court with Curry playing alongside Jarret Jack. Collins will probably counter this move with Jeremy Pargo and Jrue. I wouldn't. Go big. Put Dorell in at the three and move Turner to the two. If you insist on trotting Evan Turner out there to embarrass himself and sink his trade value, at least see if you can get him in a rare matchup where he can do something. Make GSW put either Curry or Jack on him, and get him the ball on the blocks no further than eight feet from the rim so all he has to do is go up and shoot over the smaller defender.
Thad should be able to operate tonight. Lee is as bad a defender as he is a good rebounder. I don't want to see Thad settling for those 17-foot jumpers, he can blow right by Lee. Lavoy and Spence should use their fouls freely whenever Biedrins gets his hands on the ball anywhere near the hoop.
GSW is on the second night of a back-to-back, the fourth game of a tough road trip. If the Sixers weren't playing some of the worst basketball I've ever seen, I'd say the schedule favors them, but ultimately, they aren't playing good enough basketball to beat anyone, under any circumstances. They're only going to start winning when they break out of this funk, and even when they get back to playing to their level, they won't win many.
The tip is at 7pm on NBATV (national game!). This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout, with a pillow over my head whenever Turner gets a defensive rebound and dribbles for 20 seconds before putting up a bad shot. Join me if you're rooting for a win, or a loss...or a tie. Just join me. 56 down, 26 to go.