Last night the 76ers (22-34) played solid basketball for a half and change of their game against the one-dimensional Golden State Warriors and the result was a 24-point lead. Then the Sixers resorted to their bad habits and as a result, they let the Golden State Warriors climb right back into this game before Louis Williams bailed out Philadunkia’s home team in the 4th quarter. The Sixers made this W much harder on themselves then it needed to be, which is not ideal considering they play again tonight in Phoenix.
Just as we had asked them to do in our preview, the Sixers opened the game by working the ball into the post for buckets or to create open looks for their perimeter players. Iguodala spent some time on the blocks posting up the smaller GSW defenders and the Sixers also ran smart fast breaks when the opportunity presented itself, which was often. Rookie Jrue Holday did a nice job on Stehpen Curry, Andre Iguodala did a solid job on which ever of GSW’s three back court gunners he was asked to guard and the Sixers as a whole played solid team defense. The Sixers even rebounded the ball well in the first quarter. The result was a 37-26 lead after one quarter.
This solid all-around play from the Sixers stretched through the 2nd quarter and Rodney Carney gave the Sixers depleted back court a huge boost by scoring 14 of his 16 points in the quarter. Two quarters of solid play by the starters, 54 % shooting on FGAs and a load of help from Carney gave the Sixers a 66-48 lead at the half.
The lead ballooned to 23 points (71-58) early in the third. That’s when the Sixers deviated from the game plan we had suggested and took their foot off the gas. They had a four minute stretch that began at 9:45 mark of the 3rd where the Sixers went 0-4 on jumpers and committed 3 TOs, thus allowing the GSW to regain some life and to use a boxing term, “get off the canvas”. Even though the two teams pretty much traded baskets for the remainder of the Q, the small let down by the Sixers was all the Warriors needed to believe they could get back in this game.
And with some help from more missed jumpers by the Sixers in the 4th quarter, that’s exactly what Don Nelson’s crew did. The Sixers hit a stretch in the 4th where they stopped working the ball inside, fell in love with their jumpers, went 0-9 on FGAs and committed 3 TOs, allowing the Warriors to cut the lead down to 89-83. Luckily the Sixers had Louis Williams to save the day. For all his defensive shortcomings one thing we love about Louis is that he can get buckets (8-14 on FGAs last night) and get them in a hurry. Louis (26 points total) scored 11 of the Sixers final 17 points, including a span of 8 straight and tossed in the final dagger — a 3-ball with 14.5 seconds left on the clock — to single handily bring home the 110-102 W for the Sixers.
It will be interesting to see how the extra minutes and effort the Sixers put in to win a game which should have been a cake walk victory early on will impact the team against run-n-gun Phoenix tonight. No Sixer in the first-five hauled less then 27 minutes and three of them (AI9, Louis and Holiday) clocked over 37 minutes vs. GSW. Even sixth man Thaddeus Young saw 30 minutes of run last night. That’s not a good formula for success in the second game of a back-to-back situation and that goes double when the second night’s opponent is the Suns.
Two of the nastiest flushes of the season happened last night against Golden State in the 1st Q. The first was a lefty dunk by rookie Jrue Holiday on the break. The second was a ridiculous alley-oop catch and finish by Iguodala. In case you did not see the plays last night or missed the highlights today, here they are…