Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Warriors
The good and the bad from Sixers-Warriors.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
It was a full-on spectacle at the Wells Fargo Center tonight, as the Golden State Warriors came to town for a primetime matchup. Of course, the story was Stephen Curry, who entered the night just 10 made three-pointers away from setting a new NBA career record. Let’s get to Pros and Cons.
Pro: Appreciating the greatness of Curry (and Matisse Thybulle)
Curry did not break the record tonight after a difficult opening to the game in which he struggled to get free from the grasp of Matisse Thybulle, who all in all did a very good job taking on the Curry assignment.
Even if tonight’s game wasn’t the kind of epic show people hoped for, Curry is bound to break the record in the next few games, despite him having played considerably fewer games than the current record-holder, Ray Allen.
It goes without saying at this point that Curry has completely revolutionized the way basketball is played. No player has ever created more space for his team in NBA history, and no player has even close to as impressive of a track record as a shooter. He is the greatest of all time at what has become the league’s most sought-after skill.
As he nears history, Curry should be recognized at not just the best shooter to ever play the game, but as someone who is arguably the most influential player in the history of the game.
All of that made Thybulle’s spectacular defensive performance even more impressive. He smothered Curry for nearly every single second he was in the game, and was a key reason why Curry had such major and uncharacteristic struggles.
I don’t care what his stats were, this was the most impressive performance of Thybulle’s career when you consider not just the performance, but the nearly-impossible situation he was put in.
Pro: The second unit answers the call
As the Sixers ran into Golden State’s buzzsaw starting lineup, they needed their bench to step up to be even remotely competitive in this game. And fortunately for them, the bench came up big tonight.
It started with Andre Drummond in the middle, who dominated the glass and had some huge put-backs. Shake Milton, who has averaged an efficient 10.4 points per game over his last five games entering tonight, commandeered the offense, frequently getting to the rim and either scoring, drawing a foul or collapsing the defense.
As Joel Embiid and the starters struggled a bit offensively in the early portions of the game, it was the backups who came in and dominated Golden State’s talented bench — and even some lineups featuring both Curry and Draymond Green.
Drummond and Milton took charge the most, but this was a great night for nearly the entire Sixers bench. All in all, their effort was what allowed the starters to put the game away in the fourth quarter. This was a team win in every sense of the word.
Con: Seth Curry’s defensive limitations
Curry has never been a renowned defensive player, as he boasts a relatively small frame for a prototypical shooting guard. Therein lies the issue: Curry is too small to guard wings, but not good enough defensively to stick against the league’s elite point guards.
So when a star guard is in town, the Sixers are forced to either have Curry defend them or a defend wing with a significant size and strength advantage.
Tonight, Curry was stuck on Andrew Wiggins, who absolutely torched Curry, pretty much getting whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it.
This raises the question: how valuable can Curry be deep into the playoffs? Teams will repeatedly hunt him on the defensive end, as we’ve seen teams do in the past. The Sixers will be forced to sit him in lots of high-leverage spots, and because of that their late-game offense, which is already very questionable, will take a massive hit.
Curry has been as good as the Sixers could have asked for when they acquired him during the 2020 NBA Draft. But this fundamental issue remains.