For a back-to-back defending champion, there can be no signature win in the regular season. But what the Warriors pulled off Saturday in Philadelphia surely provided immense satisfaction.
They used a paste made from grit and sweat to come back for a 120-117 victory over the 76ers. Down 14 in the third quarter, the Warriors regrouped and swept the Sixers off their own floor.
Beating the best team they’d seen since the All-Star break, the Warriors brought a disappointing four-game road trip to an impressive conclusion.
Here are some of the positives and negatives from the game:
Welcome back, Draymond
Put simply, Draymond Green was not a factor in Miami or Orlando. It’s odd, because he has a way of making himself a factor without gaudy numbers. He knew he needed to bounce back, and he did, picking apart the Philly offense with his playmaking and practically devouring the offense with his omnipresent defense. Green scored two points in 18 second-half minutes, yet was plus-12.
This team’s defense follows the lead of Green. If he’s bringing it, they’re shamed into sharing the load. He redeemed himself.
JB brings it again
Even when most of his teammates were snoozing through Miami and Orlando, Jordan Bell was working. Given his youth and sparse playing time, he has plenty of energy. So for the third consecutive game, he was productive. He scored only three points, but he had three rebounds, two blocks and a dazzling assist in 16 minutes. He also did some nice defensive work on Tobias Harris.
Bell’s turnaround is timely enough, but with Kevon Looney unavailable Saturday, there was an urgent need. Bell delivered. He is earning his minutes.
Charity? No thanks
The Warriors entered the game ranked fourth in free-throw percentage at 81 percent, with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant ranking in the top 10. They went to the line 34 times, two short of their season-high, and they missed 10, tying a season-high. Durant missed four (10-of-14), as did Cousins (6-of-10). As a team, the Warriors missed six in the fourth quarter.
Because they don’t get to the line very often, ranking 24th in attempts, they need to exploit all opportunities for easy money. They were fortunate to dodge disaster.
The Hustle Game
It was impressive enough that the Warriors came up with 14 steals and seven blocks. What was more remarkable was the breadth of contributors. Six different players got at least one steal, with Curry swiping a team-high four. Four different players had at least one block, with Andre Iguodala rejecting a team-high three shots. That’s 21 effort points -- with 14 coming in their ferocious second half.
Steals and blocks are a great way to measure a team’s defensive tenacity. We’re confident that assistant coach/defensive coordinator Ron Adams was pleased.