Programming note: Warriors-76ers coverage starts today at 3pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
Kevin Durant is expected back in the lineup when the Warriors begin one of the most demanding road trips in franchise history Monday in Philadelphia, where they play the struggling 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
With Durant out of the lineup for the first time on Saturday, the Warriors (49-9) were choppy on offense but held off the atrocious Nets at Oracle Arena. Having him back means will take a major stumble to feel any threat from the 76ers.
It’s the first of a seven-game “road trip” that includes a one-game interruption in Oakland. Six of the games are on consecutive nights.
After a brief resurgence behind young center Joel Embiid, the 76ers (22-36) are back to the scrapping and hoping to compete. They’ve been surprisingly tough to beat, winning four of their last six.
Warriors by 13.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Zaza Pachulia vs. Jahlil Okafor: With Embiid out indefinitely and Nerlens Noel traded away, Okafor becomes Philly’s most imposing player. The center is coming off a 28-point effort against the Knicks. If he’s able to get in a rhythm, things could get dicey. That said, the Warriors have enough capable big men to keep Okafor under control. It begins with Pachulia.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L hand contusion) is listed as probable. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (L wrist surgery), C Andrew Bogut (personal), C Joel Embiid (L knee contusion), F Ben Simmons (R foot fracture) and C/F Tiago Splitter (R calf strain) are listed as out.
Warriors: 8-2. 76ers: 4-6.
The Warriors have won six in a row and seven of the last eight. They have won the last three in Philadelphia.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
EARLY LETHARGY: While the Warriors went through a light practice upon arrival in Philly on Sunday, they opted to sleep in rather than have the typical game-day shootaround Monday morning. This could affect the opening moments but is not likely to linger.
STEPH CHASES KOBE: Stephen Curry needs four 3-pointers to surpass Kobe Bryant and move into 11th place on the all-time list for triples. Curry currently has 1,824, while Bryant finished his career with 1,827.
WRAP IT UP: With this being the “easy” night of a back-to-back set (the Warriors travel to Washington Tuesday night to face the more formidable Wizards), the goal will be to take complete control of the game by the middle of the third quarter, thereby minimizing the minutes played by the regulars.