OAKLAND, Calif. – Many NBA teams are starting to have bad memories of Oracle Arena as the host Golden State Warriors are currently tearing up the league. No teams, however, may despise the old arena as much as this current group of 76ers.
Last season they lost to the Warriors by 43 points, two nights after being leveled by the Los Angeles Clippers by 45. Former Sixer Marreese Speights torched them that February night with a career-high 32 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
Last night started way better for the Sixers as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead on the Warriors in quiet Oracle. But Golden State got the crowd, and itself, going with 11 straight points, finished the quarter up 17 and rode that to a 40-point win, 126-86.
The Warriors, now 25-5, have won 10-straight at home and are 9-0 this season against the Eastern Conference. The Sixers fell to 4-26 and have two games remaining on this seven-game road trip, with Phoenix on Friday and the Clippers on Saturday.
Speights was again hot last night as he scored 23 points in just under 24 minutes. The dynamic backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson didn't play in the fourth quarter, but still managed to do their damage as Curry collected 13 points and nine assists in 27 minutes and Thompson 14 points in 24 minutes. Somehow, despite being known for it's tremendous three point shooting, the Sixers allowed many wide open, long distant bombs by Golden State, which converted 12-of-28 from three.
"I don't want our guys feeling embarrassed," said coach Brett Brown. "I don't want them feeling ashamed. I want them finding a way to take a deep breath and understand this is where the Philadelphia 76ers program is at at the moment. At times, it is painful."
"Our habits have been built on guarding the paint. We've gone from 30th to 11th [in defensive efficiency]for that reason and we get punished when we play teams like Portland [18-for-43 Friday night against Sixers] and Golden State and it's the next layer of our evolution. You pick your poison. I have chosen to do something that is just so vanilla. I'm proud of what we've done. Going from 30th to 11th means something to me. But you come in here and the transition defense that we started, that will cover the gym if you do it well. What happens is when you start guarding the paint a lot in pick and roll and you start shifting a little too much and watching Steph dance and then there's Klay and you lose vision. That's where you get punished. I think the relationship of, we call it KYP, know your personnel, who are you guarding? How much distance, really, can you shift off of the ball if you're not guarding the ball and you have Klay Thompson? Maybe not that much. Maybe the crowd that we're used to showing other players can't be as big."
No it can't. And is good as they are offensively, the Warriors have made themselves a premier defensive team, also. Last night, they held the Sixers to 38.4 percent shooting from the floor and forced 28 turnovers while getting a season-high 19 steals. Of course they were impressive at the offensive end, too, shooting 55.4 percent for the game and assisting on 38 of their 46 made field goals.