The Philadelphia 76ers are in the Bay Area to take on the Golden State Warriors in the home debut of DeMarcus Cousins. Since getting Cousins, the Warriors are 5-0. This adds on to a 6-game winning streak before Cousins returned as well. The 76ers are playing good basketball of late as well as winners of 6 of their last 8. They have had a few injury problems as of late, but they have not seemed to affect the team and their record too much.
There are no red flags on the injury report for either team, but I am slightly concerned about Joel Embiid. Embiid has been dealing with back problems for a few weeks now, and he fell awkwardly towards the end of the last game. He eventually returned to the game after going to the locker room, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he pops up as questionable at some point today.
The 76ers are clearly a 3-headed monster that wants to rely on shooting from the role players. There have been 2 issues with that all season, and they are definitely issues tonight. One issue is that their role players aren’t the best shooters. Obviously, J.J. Redick is pretty good, but guys like Wilson Chandler, T.J. McConnell, and Corey Brewer are not elite shooters that you can rely on to constantly knock down shots in big games. This is compounded by the fact that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons aren’t great shooters either. Embiid is shooting 31% from 3-pt this year, which is respectable for a player of his skill-set and is not really a number where you just dare the man to shoot.
Simmons, on the other hand, is horrible, and it may be one of the most frustrating things to watch in the NBA. Ben Simmons is 0% from 3-pt this year in 33.4 minutes per game. He doesn’t even attempt to take them. This is an issue that Simmons must address, and I think the Warriors are one of the best teams in the league at demonstrating this concept. Now, I am unsure that the Warriors will implement their potential Finals defensive strategy in this game, but with the length of Cousins, Durant, and Green, they should be able to sag off Simmons and force him to pass. Jimmy Butler has had one rollercoaster of a year, but he is always capable of getting hot. The only issue is that Klay Thompson is an elite guard defender and he should be able to get to Jimmy to some degree. Embiid hasn’t done as well as you would think in this matchup and I assume that Boogie Cousins on him will not make this time any easier.
The Warriors offense should be in a really interesting spot in this game. I am curious to see how the 76ers defend the Warriors, as there are a few different options. I would expect the Warriors to defend Simmons with Durant, Butler with Klay, Redick with Curry, Chandler with Green, and Embiid with Cousins. It is possible that the 76ers turn around and just match up the same way.
The issue with that is that Ben Simmons on KD is a less-effective way of using Simmons. I do not think Durant will particularly struggle in this matchup, and then you have Redick on Steph. I think the clear weak-link to this situation is J.J. Redick’s defense. I think if we see that come to fruition, we may see more McConnell playing the 1 while guarding Steph and matching up similarly from there. I expect the Warriors guards to have the most success in this matchup because the 76ers should struggle to chase them around all of the backdoor cuts and off-ball screens that they run for Klay and Steph.
Warriors vs. 76ers Prediction
This line at (-9.5) for the Warriors is a really slippery slope. I think that the Warriors win this game and they likely win it comfortably, but 9.5 is a lot. I think that I prefer the Under (241) on this game if I like the Warriors because I think the 76ers may struggle to score the ball consistently here. If we do somehow get Embiid out news, I will smash the Warriors as fast as I can. If not, I like the 76ers simply due to the line. The 76ers are clearly good enough to stick around with Golden State, and that is all +9.5 asks them to do.