Ben Simmons must be on the floor
He finished with 23 points and 12 assists for his 10th double-double of the season. He shot 11-of-15 and added eight rebounds to the stat sheet with just one turnover. But more importantly was how the Sixers slipped into a slump when he was off the floor. Not only was the pace slower without the driving force of Simmons, but the Warriors were able to pay more attention to the perimeter and the other players when the threat of Simmons was absent. He’s already averaging 34.6 minutes per game, but when the defending champs are in the house, he is going to have to play more than 37 minutes.
Explosive first half
The Sixers played their best basketball to date in the opening two quarters against the Warriors. The combined offensive output with smothering defense was a beauty. There was hardly anything to balk at. Robert Covington was unstoppable, hitting his first four shots (all threes). The Sixers starting unit combined for 66 of the teams’ 74 first-half points. Joel Embiid was on, working the post, and hitting threes. Ben Simmons was slashing and finishing. It was as complete a half as you can have from any team against the defending champion Warriors.
The Warriors attempt to double team Joel Embiid was used against them as the Sixers constantly swung the ball to the weak side with intent and speed. The Sixers had 20 assists on 30 made field goals in the first half and went into intermission with a commanding 22-point lead following a team season-high for points in a quarter with 47 in the first. All of this was done with just three turnovers that weren’t converted into any points by the Warriors.
Third quarter breakdown
As the Warriors are known to do, they flipped the script in the third quarter scoring 47 of their own points, completely erasing the Sixers lead, and went into the fourth with a 99-89 advantage. After the Sixers impressive shooting in the first half, they shot just 7-of-22 in the third including 1-of-7 from distance. The Sixers starters were held to a combined 11 points in the third. The defensive prowess the Sixers showed in the opening two periods was absent or ineffective in the third, as the Warriors shot 68 percent to take the lead. The 32-point scoring difference in the third (47-15) was the largest difference in any third quarter in the NBA shot-clock era.
J.J. Redick slowly returning
Shooting trouble plagued Redick on the Sixers 5-game road trip. But he seems to be returning to normal. He was 8-of-16 from the field including 2-of-4 from deep. He used the mid-range game to his advantage against the Warriors when they were closing out hard on him on the perimeter. Doesn’t matter where he was shooting from, seeing the ball go in was the most important thing.