The 76ers (49-23) got out to a 17-0, then 23-1 start Wednesday night in Chicago and never looked back in a 116-91 victory. Now, after their seventh straight road win, the Sixers visit the Golden State Warriors (38-36) on Friday night. The Sixers then play in Phoenix the very next night and will be in Denver on Monday to round out the current trip.
The Warriors, led by Stephen Curry’s 29.6 points per game in 48 total games, begin a four-game homestand boasting a 29-7 home record. Curry picked up a 20-point, 13-assist double-double in a 127-125 road win at Dallas on Wednesday, while young reserves Jonathan Kuminga (22 points) and Jordan Poole (16 points) combined to add 38 points off the bench.
As of Thursday night, the injury report included the following players: Sixers Joel Embiid (questionable - right calf tightness), James Harden (questionable - left achilles soreness), and Jalen McDaniels (questionable - right hip soreness), as well as Golden State’s Andre Iguodala (out - left wrist surgery), Gary Payton II (out - right adductor soreness), Ryan Rollins (out - right foot surgery), and Andrew Wiggins (out - personal reasons)
The Sixers beat the Warriors, 118-106, in the first meeting between the two teams back on Dec. 16 in South Philadelphia. Neither Curry nor Tyrese Maxey played in that game. Poole scored 29 points in a start for Golden State, while Embiid (34 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, four steals, two blocks) and Harden (27 points, five rebounds, nine assists) led the way for the home team.
Harden missed the last game Wednesday and Embiid played only the first half against the Bulls. De’Anthony Melton stepped up as the team’s leading scorer with 25 points, and he also played well in the December matchup against the Warriors, filling the stat sheet with 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in that one.
“Defensively, I thought we were just totally locked in from the start of the game,” Tobias Harris said after beating the Bulls. “Getting stops, getting out and running. We know they're a team that over-helps a lot, so making that first pass, the quick pass as well. That opened up the game for us and we were able to make shots, and just roll from there.”
Harris produced final stats at Chicago that resemble those listed in Melton’s December line against the Warriors: 20 points, nine rebounds, eight assists.
“He attacks,” 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers said of Harris. “He's making the right play with the ball, with his passing. Just [Wednesday], we passed the ball. Man, we're a different team when we do that.”
Maxey credits communication.
“Our communication, our togetherness, has been huge, honestly,” said Maxey. “Us being together, the camaraderie is really good. The communication has been excellent. The biggest thing, I think, is the players have been on-court coaches. Everybody. Everybody has been talking and coaching each other up, and that really helps us.”
Friday’s contest is a 10 p.m. ET start in San Francisco.
Wednesday’s Top Performances:
- In the absence of James Harden at Chicago, Melton started and tallied a game-high 25 points (8-16 fg, 4-9 3fg, 5-6 ft) in 33 minutes.
- He also recorded four rebounds, four assists, a game-high three steals, and one blocked shot in the victory. Through Wednesday’s action, Melton ranked second in the NBA with 117 steals (O.G. Anunoby, 118).
- In 34 minutes, Harris neared a triple-double with 20 points (5-9 fg, 3-5 3fg, 7-8 ft), a team-high nine rebounds, and game-high eight assists.
- Maxey posted 21 points (8-19 fg, 4-8 3fg, 1-1 ft), five rebounds, four assists, and a steal in a game-high 38 minutes of play.
- Niang connected on a trio of 3-pointers, plus a pair of free throws, for 11 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
Quote to Note:
Doc Rivers on veteran starter P.J. Tucker, who missed the previous two games due to ankle soreness:
“P.J. was great. He looked great. He moved as well as I’ve seen him move, played well defensively, made shots. His energy – listen, we’re a completely different defensive team when P.J. Tucker is on the floor. It’s not even close.”