Here they come, everybody …
It didn’t look pretty early, but the Sixers stormed back from a seven-point halftime deficit with a 42-point third quarter to beat the mighty Warriors, 113-104, Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
The Sixers (34-18) looked like they were walking into a buzz saw, but instead, they halted Golden State’s 11-game win streak. It didn’t look promising against the world champs early with a red-hot Stephen Curry and 13 first-half turnovers for the Sixers, but they fought back. They held the Warriors to just 47 percent from the field and 29 percent from three.
Here are observations from the Sixers’ biggest win of the season:
• Ben Simmons was named an All-Star for the first time in his young career and he certainly looked the part on Thursday. He was aggressive early and took advantage of any of the smaller defenders Golden State threw at him.
Generally when Simmons is attacking the rim and looking for his shot early — something he has done more recently — good things happen.
He finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. He was the Sixers’ best player Thursday night. You could argue it was the best game of Simmons' career. Brilliant performance.
• Joel Embiid relishes matchups against elite big men like DeMarcus Cousins. In this one, he forced the action early and committed seven first-half turnovers. The Warriors as a team did a nice job collapsing the paint and not allowing Embiid any easy post-ups.
The shooting numbers (8 of 24, 0 of 5 from three) don’t look pretty, but Embiid definitely made his presence felt and took a lot of the focus off his teammates. He also recorded his league-leading 42nd double-double with 26 points and 20 rebounds.
• Curry and Kevin Durant are practically unguardable. Brett Brown tried to throw different looks at both players.
Curry hit six threes and had 23 points in the first half on his way to a game-high 41 points. When he's on like that, there's not much you can do. Durant had 25 points but went just 1 of 8 from three.
The Sixers did catch a break with Klay Thompson out of the lineup with an illness. That doesn't take anything away from the win.
• Jimmy Butler was pretty much invisible offensively in the first half. He went 0 for 5 from three and didn’t impact the game on that end at all, finishing with just seven points on 3 of 12. These are the types of games and moments the Sixers acquired Butler for, so it’s a little disappointing to have such a performance. But Butler is a four-time All-Star and he'll bounce back.
• The bench has been an obvious weakness for the Sixers all season, but two rookies have given them a huge boost recently and shined on Thursday.
Jonah Bolden’s presence was missed in the team’s win over the Lakers. Sure, the Sixers won the game rather easily, but whenever the Lakers made a run, it was with Embiid on the bench. Bolden was actually a plus-2 in the first half and a plus-10 overall vs. Golden State.
There was one impressive sequence in the first half when Cousins went right at him in the post. Bolden stood his ground, moved his feet well and eventually forced a jump ball as Cousins rose up for a shot around the rim. A similar play happened in the second half with Bolden getting the block. Cousins complained for a foul — shocking — but it just looked like a great defensive play by Bolden.
It’s not surprising to see Landry Shamet hit threes. He has the best three-point percentage of any rookie in the league that qualifies for the stat. What’s been encouraging about Shamet recently is his defense. He still has physical limitations on that end of the floor, but he continues to improve every game.
The first-year players combined for 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting.
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