Sixers likely to face barrage of threes at Golden State

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Tony Wroten (8) passes the ball as l Blazers center Meyers Leonard (11) and guard Allen Crabbe (23) defend. (Steve Dykes/USA Today)

SAN FRANCISCO - Tightening up their perimeter defense is one of the 76ers' top goals on their West Coast trip.

"Golden State, Phoenix, Portland . . . we are going to have to get better guarding the three," coach Brett Brown said. "And that's a real learning opportunity."

Before Monday's NBA games, the Sixers (4-25) had surrendered the most three-point attempts per game (25.4) in the league. However, they were eighth in three-point percentage defense (33.7), meaning that opponents had missed a lot of shots.

The Sixers weren't so lucky Friday, as the Trail Blazers made 18 of 43 threes in a 114-93 rout. Tuesday night's game against the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena could be worse.

The Sixers could be without three starters against a Warriors squad that was ranked in the top seven in three-pointers per game (9.6, fifth), attempts per game (25.9, sixth) and three-point percentage (37.0, seventh) through Sunday.

Shooting guard Hollis Thompson (upper respiratory infection) and power forward Luc Mbah a Moute (left calf strain) will not play. Center Nerlens Noel (sprained left ankle) is questionable.

But Noel and Mbah a Moute didn't keep Portland's Wesley Matthews from making 7 of 14 three-pointers.

"That ain't acceptable," Brown said. "So, what's Steph Curry going to do?"

The Warriors point guard is fourth in the league with 85 three-pointers, behind Matthews, Portland point guard Damian Lillard, and Atlanta shooting guard Kyle Korver, a former Sixer.

Curry is averaging 23.1 points and shooting 38.5 percent on three-pointers for Golden State (24-5), which has the league's best record. But the Sixers can't focus just on stopping him.

Shooting guard Klay Thompson is also lethal on a Warriors team that made 27 three-pointers in sweeping last season's two games against the Sixers. Thompson is shooting 43.1 percent from behind the arc and averaging 21.3 points.

The Warriors are far from just an offensive team. Through Sunday's games, they led the league in field-goal percentage defense (42.2).

"So, you are playing against this incredibly gifted playground [team] tomorrow night," Brown said.

"As good as Portland is, and I think they are, this gym that we are going to tomorrow night with Klay and Steph even goes to a higher level. "And I think it's a great experience for these guys."

It won't get easier after Tuesday.

On Friday, the Sixers will visit the Phoenix Suns, who were second in the league in three-pointers attempted (27.3) and tied for second with Portland in three-pointers made (10.1) through Sunday.

"The West is real," Brown said. "We are over here in a real part of the world, NBA-wise, where the talent and team structure may be tilted at the moment. So, it's just a great opportunity for us to grow our defense and continue to build 20-year-olds."


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